August 15, 2014

The 3000's got network printing, so use it

Ten years ago this summer, HP's 3000 lab engineers were told that 3000 users wanted networked printing. By 2005 it was ready for beta testing. This was one of the last enhancements demanded as Number 1 by a wide swath of the 3000 community, and then delivered by HP. The venerable Systems Improvement Ballot of 2004 ranked networked printing No. 1 among users' needs.

MPEMXU1A is the patch that enables networked printing, pushed into General Release in Fall, 2005. In releasing this patch's functionality, HP gave the community a rather generic, OS-level substitute for much better third party software from RAC Consulting (ESPUL). It might have been the last time that an independent software tool got nudged by HP development.

HP M1522N printerThe HP 3000 has the ability to send jobs to non-HP printers over a standard network as a result of the enhancement. The RAC third party package ties printers to 3000 with fewer blind spots than the MPEMXU1A patch. HP's offering won't let Windows-hosted printers participate in the 3000 network printing enhancement. There's a Windows-only, server-based net printing driver by now, of course, downloadable from the Web. The HP Universal Print Driver Series for Windows embraces Windows Server 2012, 2008, and 2003.

Networked printing for MPE/iX had the last classic lifespan that we can recall for a 3000 enhancement. The engineering was ready to test less than a year after the request. This software moved out of beta test by November, a relatively brief five-month jaunt to general release. If you're homesteading on 3000s, and you don't need PCL sequences at the beginning and end of a spool file, you should use it. Commemorate the era when the system's creator was at least building best-effort improvements.

MPE/iX 6.5 was still being patched when networked printing rolled out. That's a release still in some use at  homesteading shops. In contrast, plenty of later patches were only created and tested for the 7.0 and 7.5 PowerPatch kits.

Deep inside the Web is a white paper that former HP staffer Jeff Vance wrote, a guide he called "Communicator-like" after the classic HP technical documents. HP's taken down its Jazz repository of tech papers where NWPrinting.html once was available. But our open source software expert Brian Edminster tracked down that gem at the Client Systems website -- the company which was one of two to license HP's tech papers. You could check in with your independent support provider, to see if they've got the paper.

Networked printing was never as comprehensive as the indie solutions for the 3000, but at least it was delivered on the OS level via patches. The vendor still warned that adding new printers was going to be an uneven process.

HP will support this enhancement on a "best-effort" basis, meaning we will attempt to duplicate and resolve specific spooler problems -- but we cannot guarantee that all ASCII based printers are supported by this enhancement.

Of course, HP's support is long gone. But while best-effort might sound like a show-stopper so many years later, you'd be surprised how many printers of that 6.5 era are still attached at homesteading 3000 sites.

Where do you get the patch? That's where HP's still doing its work. These MPE/iX patches were given special dispensation from the pay-for-patches edict of 2010. They're still free by calling HP. That non-Windows printer and MPE might seem like old technology. But HP's still using telephones to enable the delivery of patches, so there's that Throwback -- and one you can find on days which are not Thursdays, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:12 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 08, 2014

That MPE spooler's a big piece to replace

PrintspoolerMigration transitions have an unexpected byproduct: They make managers appreciate the goodness that HP bundled into MPE/iX and the 3000. The included spooler is a great example of functionality which has an extra cost to replace in a new environment. Unlike in Windows with MBF Scheduler, Unix has to work very had to supply the same abilities -- and that's the word from one of the HP community's leading Unix gurus.

Bill Hassell spread the word about HP-UX treasures for years from his own consultancy. While working for SourceDirect as a Senior Sysadmin expert, he noted a migration project where the project's manager noted Unix tools weren't performing at enterprise levels. Hassell said HP-UX doesn't filter many print jobs.

MPE has an enterprise level print spooler, while HP-UX has very primitive printing subsystem. hpnp (HP Network Printing) is nothing but a network card (JetDirect) configuration program. The ability to control print queues is very basic, and there is almost nothing to monitor or log print activities similar to MPE. HP-UX does not have any print job filters except for some basic PCL escape sequences such as changing the ASCII character size.

While a migrating shop might now be appreciating the MPE spooler more, some of them need a solution to replicate the 3000's built-in level of printing control. One answer to the problem might lie in using a separate Linux server to spool, because Linux supports the classic Unix CUPS print software much better than HP-UX.

The above was Glen Kilpatrick's idea as a Senior Response Center Engineer at Hewlett-Packard. Like a good support resource, Kilpatrick was a realist in solving the "where's the Unix spooler?" problem.

The "native" HP-UX scheduler / spooler doesn't use (or work like) CUPS, so if you implement such then you'll definitely have an unsupported solution (by HP anyway). Perhaps you'd be better off doing "remote printing" (look for that choice in the HP-UX System Administration Manager) to a Linux box that can run CUPS.

This advice shovels in a whole new environment to address an HP-UX weakness, however. So there's another set of solutions available from independent resources -- third-party spooling software. These extra-cost products accomodate things like default font differences between print devices, control panels, orientation and more. Michael Anderson, the consultant just finishing up a 3000 to Unix migration, has pointed out these problems that rose up during the migration.

My client hired a Unix guru (very experienced, someone I have lots of respect for) to set this up a year or more ago. They recreated all the old MPE printer LDEVs and CLASS names in CUPS, and decided on the "raw" print format so the application can send whatever binary commands to the printers. Now they have some complaints about the output not being consistent. My response was, "Absolutely! There were certain functions that the MPE spooler did for you at the device class/LDEV level, and you don't have that with CUPS on HP-UX."

Anderson has faith that learning more about CUPS will uncover a solution. "One plus for CUPS, it does make the applications more portable," he added.

There's one set of tasks can solve the problem without buying a commercial spooler for Unix, but you'll need experience with adding PCL codes and control of page layouts. Hassell explains:

Yes, [on HP-UX] it's the old, "Why doesn't Printer 2 print like Printer 3?" problem. So unlike the Mighty MPE system, where there is an interface to control prepends and postpends, in HP-UX you'll be editing the model.orig directory where each printer's script is located. It just ASMOS (A Simple Matter of Scripting). The good news is that you already have experience adding these PCL codes and you understand what it takes to control logical page layouts. The model.orig directory is located in /etc/lp/interface/model.orig

What Anderson needs to accomplish in his migration is the setup of multiple config environments for each printer, all to make "an HP-UX spooler send printer init/reset instructions to the printer, before and after the print job. In other words: one or more printer names, each configured differently, yet all point to the same device."

You won't get that for HP-UX without scripting, the experts are saying, or an external spooling server under Linux, or a third party indie spooler product. 

3000 managers who want third party expertise to support a vast array of print devices are well served to look at ESPUL and PrintPath spooling software from veteran 3000 developer Rich Corn at RAC Consulting. Corn's the best at controlling spoolfiles for 3000s, and he takes networked printing to a new level with PrintPath. Plenty of 3000 sites never needed to know all that his work could do, however -- because that MPE spooler looks plenty robust compared to what's inside the Unix toolbox.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:56 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 02, 2014

Co-op works out CHARON IO differences

Editor's note: Starting tomorrow it's a business holiday week's-end here in the US, so we are taking a few days to relax in a family reunion on the waters of a very well known Bay. We'll be back at our reporting on Monday.

At the Dairylea Cooperative in the Northeastern US, moving away from classic HP 3000 hardware to CHARON meant a bit of a learning curve. But the changes were something that even had a few blessings in disguise.

Moving files via FTP from the retired HP 3000 would be quicker and easier, said IT Director Jeff Elmer, "but of course it would require the physical box to be on the network. Getting our DLT 8000s to work with the emulator required some research, and some trial and error, but once you know the quirks and work around them, it’s actually quite reliable,” he said.

A new disaster recovery server had to be acquired. Dairylea purchased a ProLiant server identical to the one running what Elmer calls “our production emulator,”  The DR emulator is installed it in the same city where the physical HP 3000 DR box was, complete with tape drives. Stromasys supplies a USB key for the DR emulator as part of the support fees; the key contains HPSUSAN and HPCPUNAME codes required to boot up MPE and other software. The key is good for 360 hours of DR operation “and it expires at the same time our annual support does.”

Dairylea’s HP-branded 3000 was a 969 KS/100, but its CHARON install emulates an A500-200 model, “so in general our performance experience is about the same.  There are some times in the month when we have enough going on that things seem a bit slower than the physical box was, but overall our experience with the emulator has been very positive.”

The company has had enough computing bandwidth to experiment using that ProLiant DR box, since it’s not in day-to-day use. This work has expanded the virtual capability of that system’s VMware installation.

“We did a physical-to-virtual conversion of the Red Hat environment for the HP 3000 emulator, so our DR emulator is now running under VMware and we shut down the dedicated ProLiant server,” Elmer said. VMware handles making the USB key available to the emulator. “While you do not want to vMotion a running HP 3000 emulator, it seems to be quite happy under VMware. We can access the remote ESX hosts via vSphere, start the Red Hat host, start the HP 3000 emulator, and do a restore of the most recent full backup, all without getting out of a chair.

Elmer noted that all of the 3000 backups go to disk since moving to the emulator. This has eliminated the need to have a tape mounted by IT staff.

“We store to a virtual tape drive that is a file in the Red Hat space,” he said. “Those full backups are automatically copied off to an FTP server that is automatically replicated to our DR site — so we now have two copies of each full backup, one at the production site and one at the DR site.”

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:47 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 30, 2014

Update: Open source, in 3000 ERP style

OpenBravo roadmapAn extensive product roadmap is part of the OpenBravo directions for this open source ERP commercial solution

Five years ago today, we chronicled the prospects of open source software for HP 3000s. We mentioned the most extensive open source repository for MPE systems, curated by Brian Edminster and his company Applied Technologies. MPE-OpenSource.org has weathered these five years of change in the MPE market and still serves open source needs. But in 2009 we also were hopeful about the arrival of OpenBravo as a migration solution for 3000 users who were looking for an ERP replacement of MANMAN, for example -- without investing in the balky request-and-wait enhancement tangle of proprietary software.

Open source software is a good fit for the HP 3000 community member, according to several sources. Complete app suites have emerged and rewritten the rules for software ownership. An expert consulting and support firm for ERP solutions is proving that a full-featured ERP app suite, Openbravo, will work for 3000 customers by 2010.

[Editor's note: "We meant work for 3000 customers" in the sense of being a suitable ERP replacement for MPE-based software]. 

A software collective launched in the 1990s by the University of Navarra which has evolved to Openbravo, S.L., Openbravo is utilized by manufacturing firms around the world. Openbravo is big stuff. So large that it is one of the ten largest projects on the SourceForge.net open source repository, until Openbravo outgrew SourceForge. The software, its partners and users have their own Forge running today. In 2009, Sue Kiezel of Entsgo -- part of the Support Group's ERP consulting and tech support operations -- said, “We believe that within six to nine months, the solution will be as robust as MANMAN was at its best.”

From the looks of its deep Wiki, and a quick look into the labs where development is still emerging for advanced aspects such as analytics, Entsgo's premonition has come to fruition. Managing manufacturing is easily within the pay-grade of open source solutions like OpenBravo.

What we reported on five years ago is no less true today. Open source is an essential part of enterprise IT by now, though. Entsgo's predictions were spot-on.

Open source solutions can span a wide range of organization, from code forges with revisions and little else to the one-stop feel of a vendor, minus the high costs and long waits. Openbravo is in the latter category, operating with hundreds of employees after having received more than $18 million in funding. If that doesn't sound much like the Apache and Samba open source experience, then welcome to Open Source 2.0, where subscription fees have replaced software purchases and partner firms join alongside users to develop the software.

Openbravo says the model is "commercial open source business model that eliminates software license fees, providing support, services, and product enhancements via an annual subscription." Entsgo says you have a company that supports it, and you can subscribe to it and verifies it, upgrades it and maintains it — all of that under one company name.

“In the 3000 community, we’re used to the independence of the open source model,” said Kiezel. “We’re used to tools that are intuitive, and if you look at us, we should be able to embrace open source more than any other community.”

Open source practices turn the enhancement experience upside down for an application. In the traditional model, a single vendor writes software at a significant investment for high profits, then accepts requests for enhancements and repairs. A complex app such as ERP might not even get 10 percent of these requests fulfilled by the average vendor.

The open source community around Openbravo operates like many open source enterprises. Companies create their own enhancements, license them back to the community, and can access bug fixes quickly—all because the ownership is shared and the source code for the app is open.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:33 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 12, 2014

3000 world loses dauntless Dunlop carrier

Hp3000linksDunlop Tires are a brand from England known for their breakthrough as tires which bore their weight on air. The pneumatic tire was crafted by John Dunlop to prevent headaches for bicycle riders. All tires to that point -- the British call them tyres -- used solid rubber instead of inflated designs. The 3000 and MPE community had its own Dunlop for decades: John Dunlop, founder of the headache-busting HP3000links.com website. Dunlop is an HP 3000 pro of more than 30 years standing, and more than 20 of it he spent posting to and reading the wisdom on the 3000-L mailing list. Last week, Dunlop reported he's moving out of the world of the 3000, since his server at work has been decommissioned.

Yesterday I turned off the HP3000 918 for the final time. It became surplus to requirements, finally.

It had been humming away quite happily for the last several years without much in the way of maintenance, and it did what it does best, being one of the best and most reliable online transaction processors ever built. For durability and reliability, it was without peer.

A rather sad event seeing as I have been working on HP3000's for the last 30-plus years, although very little in the last year or so.

Dunlop has only retired his HP 3000 career, and retains his life as an IT pro. But for more than a good decade of his 30-plus years in the community, he carried vital links to 3000 information and technique from his labor-of-love website. HP3000links.com pumped up the skill level of MPE owners and managers. Dunlop dedicated his career to the 3000 in other ways as well.

In the middle of the prior decade, Dunlop served as the webmaster for the OpenMPE advocacy group. This was a time when that group was proposing paid membership. That website would have been essential to providing service to paid members. In the middle of the last decade, openmpe.com still had one of the most extensive lists of 3000 owners. Even without the paid membership, Dunlop was posting meeting minutes on the site during a period when there was close scrutiny of OpenMPE developments.

His own site was a lively circus-page of links to technical papers as well as a gateway to many 3000 websites of the past decade. "In spite of all the discussion about dwindling HP 3000 resources, the links I have pulled together and maintained are still available," Dunlop said in 2006, "and demonstrate that there is still a lot out there for the HP 3000 user." Dunlop acted as an editor while he maintained the site for more than a decade. 

Four years ago he wondered why HP wanted to hang on to control of the 3000's configuration software after the vendor left the MPE market.

"There is software out there which will change HPSUSAN numbers," he said. "Surely HP would not be interested in chasing up anyone who used this software now, seeing as they have lost all interest in the HP3000?" Told that HP had just restated its forever-more control of SS_UPDATE -- the only 3000 support it will do on the record -- Dunlop replied, "I can't see why HP wants to retain control of this still, unless it's to try and milk a few more dollars out of the HP 3000 community."

The loss of a community member who knew the 3000 from the 1970s can feel like a death in the family, even though that person remains very much alive. The demise of HP3000links.com is very real, of course. Original material that it referenced is still alive on the web, in many cases. We did a survey of its vendor list during 2012, simply amazed at that time that it could have been so comprehensive.

Dunlop was signing off of 3000-L with his report. For years he's shared his wisdom while managing systems at Polimeri Europa UK Ltd. The company manufactures, among other things, synthetic rubber.

For many years, I have been mostly a lurker on this list but have benefitted greatly from the massed HP3000 knowledge so amptly demonstrated by the other members of this list.  To all the contributors, much thanks for all your help over the years.

So, sadly, this will be my final post to the list as I will no longer be seeking help in HP3000-land. To all, best of luck. Cheerio! 

One of his most notable contributions we could find in the 18-plus years of Newswire archives appeared in a 1999 article describing Posix startups under MPE/iX. The namespace for MPE which behaves most like Unix didn't always work properly on older systems:

Some sites are completely missing all of the HFS files (this is usually caused by an “incorrect” reload). From the MPE CI, try :LISTFILE /bin/. If no files are found, you will need to restore them from the FOS tape.

1. Restore the following from the tape:

restore *t;@.hp36431.support,i0036431.usl.sys;create;show

2. :STREAM I0036431.USL.SYS

3. After I0036431 finishes,

:STREAM SUPACCT.PUB.SYS

All of the HP-supplied HFS files will be restored, and the directory structure and permissions set to the defaults.

Note: if you just want to restore all HFS files on a backup tape, try “:RESTORE /-@.@.@;SHOW;KEEP;OLDDATE;CREATE”.

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

May 01, 2014

3000 mailing list notes becoming fainter

Have you ever been down to your mailbox with anticipation, pulled open the door and find nothing new? The HP3000-L listserve, which we variously call the 3000 newsgroup and the 3000 mailing list, is having that kind of dry spell. Like the rainfall that we yearn for in Texas this spring, it's been close to two weeks since a single new note has been in that mailbox.

Silent RunningsThere's little point in comparisons but being the thieves of joy. However, the days of 1,500 messages a month were more joyful for the prospect of MPE and 3000 wisdom in those times, a torrent shared and shaped by a larger community. A goodly share of those messages, even in the heyday, covered the flotsam of politics, as well as more scandalous off-topic notes on climate science and treason. You could shop for a car or camera off of the advice, in those days.

The message count has drawn down despite a stable subscriber tally reported by the hosting system, servers at the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga. A little less than 600 readers are now receiving 3000-L mail. That is, however, the number of subscribers who were tallied nine years ago. And at least all of today's mail -- well, nearly all -- is related directly to HP 3000s. Off-topic noise has been all but eliminated.

We have a slavish devotion to the 3000-L, as the community veterans call it. Thousands subscribed to its messages for free, and I read that rich frontier of information in the early 1990s and could believe in a monthly newsletter for 3000s and MPE. We even devoted a column to summarizing and commentary about its traffic, for many years. John Burke was columnist for many years of those reports; the columns ran for more than 9 years in the printed edition of the Newswire. (Find them at the classic archives of the Newswire Tech Features, or type net.digest in our search page off the link at left.) Our caveat in passing along that expertise was "Advice offered from the messages here comes without warranty; test before you implement." If not for 3000-L, our last 18 years of work here might not have emerged.

A similar dry spell for the "L" took place in February, but the current one is the longest we've measured so far. It's simple enough to break the drought, simpler than what we face in Texas, anyway. Ask a question online -- you can do it via a web browser -- if you're subscribed (or sign up, from the website.) Then watch the wisdom echo back. In some ways, the L is like a canyon wall that won't speak until you shout out to it. Or futuristic drone robots, waiting for a command.

In years past, the mailing list was also a newsgroup. By using newsgroup reading software, and then later using a browser, readers of comp.sys.hp.mpe could enjoy all the wisdom, and wince or chuckle at the chaff. Alas, the synchronizing of listserv and newsgroup has broken down by now. You could not get a specific number in those days about readers. You knew how many subscribed via emails. But comp.sys.hp.mpe could be read and used by countless others.

After the previous dry spell, readers could learn how to lock a KSAM file in PowerHouse Quick, or get advice on how to rebuild a 3000's filesystem. The former is an arcane bit of technical knowledge, yes, but the latter is everyday wisdom. And the L offers a dialogue process, to follow up with additional questions.

Like the drone robots Huey and Dewey from the sci-fi classic Silent Running -- a movie so old that Bruce Dern was young while he starred in it -- the L is likely to run long after most people will find an everyday use for it. In an apt coincidence, Silent Running made its premeire the same year that HP did its first Series 3000 launch, in 1972. The 3000-L looks back for its wisdom, while the direction in which that film looked gave a view of one kind of future. Nobody can be certain when either of these stories will see their final showing. The Web, after all, remembers all.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:09 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 21, 2014

A week-plus of bleeds, but MPE's hearty

BleedingheartThere are not many aspects of MPE that seem to best the offerings from open source environments. For anyone who's been tracking the OpenSSL hacker-door Heartbleed, though, the news is good on 3000 vulnerability. It's better than more modern platforms, in part because it's more mature. If you're moving away from mature and into migrating to open source computing, then listen up.

Open source savant Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies told us why MPE is in better shape.

I know that it's been covered other places, but don't know if it's been explicitly stated anywhere in MPE-Land: The Heartbleed issue is due to the 'heartbeat' feature, which was added to OpenSSL after any known builds for MPE/iX.

That's a short way of saying: So far, all the versions of OpenSSL for MPE/iX are too old to be affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability. Seems that sometimes, it can be good to not be on the bleeding edge.

However, the 3000 IT manager -- a person who usually has a couple of decades of computing experience -- may be in charge of the more-vulnerable web servers. Linux is used a lot for this kind of thing. Jeff Kell, whose on-the-Web servers deliver news of 3000s via the 3000-L mailing list, outlined repairs needed and advice from his 30-plus years of networking -- in MPE and all other environments.

About 10 days after the news rocked the Web, Kell -- one of the sharpest tools in the drawer of networking -- posted this April 17 summary on the challenges and which ports to watch.

Unless you've had your head in the sand, you've heard about Heartbleed. Every freaking security vendor is milking it for all it's worth. It is pretty nasty, but it's essentially "read-only" without some careful follow-up. 

Most have focused on SSL/HTTPS over 443, but other services are exposed (SMTP services on 25, 465, 867; LDAP on 636; others). You can scan and it might show up the obvious ones, but local services may have been compiled against "static" SSL libraries, and be vulnerable as well.

We've cleaned up most of ours (we think, still scanning); but that just covers the server side.

There are also client-side compromises possible.

And this stuff isn't theoretical, it's been proven third-party... 

https://www.cloudflarechallenge.com/heartbleed

Lots of folks say replace your certificates, change your passwords, etc.  I'd wait until the services you're changing are verified secure.

Most of the IDS/IPS/detections of the exploits are broken in various ways.  STARTTLS works by negotiating a connection, establishing keys, and bouncing to an encrypted transport.  IDS/IPS can't pick up heartbleed encrypted. They're after the easy pre-authenticated handshake.

It's a mess for sure. But it’s not yet safe to necessarily declare anything safe just yet.

Stay tuned, and avoid the advertising noise.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:45 AM in Migration, Newsmakers, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 04, 2014

Save the date: Apr 16 for webinar, RUG meet

April 16 is going to be a busy day for MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster.

BirketLong known for his company's Wednesday Webinars, Foster will be adding a 90-minute prelude on the same day as his own webinar about Data Migration, Risk Mitigation and Planning. That Wednesday of April 16 kicks off with the semi-annual CAMUS conference-call user group meeting. Foster is the guest speaker, presenting the latest information he's gathered about Stromasys and its CHARON HP 3000 emulator.

The user group meet begins at 10:30 AM Central Time, and Foster is scheduled for a talk -- as well as Q&A from listeners about the topic -- until noon that day. Anyone can attend the CAMUS meeting, even if they're not members of the user group. Send an email to CAMUS leader Terri Lanza at tlanza@camus.org to register, but be sure to do it by April 15. The conference call's phone number will be emailed to registrants. You can phone Lanza with questions about the meeting at 630-212-4314.

Starting at noon, there's an open discussion for attendees about any subject for any MANMAN platform (that would be VMS, as well as MPE). The talk in this soup tends to run to very specific questions about the management and use of MANMAN. Foster is more likely to field questions more general to MPE. The CHARON emulator made its reputation among the MANMAN users in the VMS community, among other spots in the Digital world. You don't have to scratch very deep to find satisfied CHARON users there.

Then beginning at 1 PM Central, Foster leads the Data Migration, Risk Mitigation and Planning webinar, complete with slides and ample Q&A opportunity.

Registration for the webinar is through the MB Foster website. Like all of the Wednesday Webinars, it runs between 1-2 PM. The outline for the briefing, as summed up by the company:

Data migration is the process of moving an organization’s data from one application to another application—preferably without disrupting the business, users or active applications.

Data migration can be a routine part of IT operations in today’s business environment providing service to the whole company – giving users the data they need when they need it, especially for Report, BI (Business Intelligence) or analytics (including Excel spreadsheets) and occasionally for a migration to a new application. How can organizations minimize impacts of data migration downtime, data loss and minimize cost?

In this webinar we outline the best way to develop a data conversion plan that incorporates risk mitigation, and outlines business, operational and technical challenges, methodology and best practices.

The company has been in the data migration business since the 1980s. Data Express was its initial product to extracting and controlling data. It revamped the products after Y2K to create the Universal Data Access (UDA) product line. MBF-UDACentral supports the leading open source databases in PostgreSQL and MySQL, plus Eloquence, Oracle, SQLServer, DB2, and TurboIMAGE, as well as less-common databases such as Progress, Ingres, Sybase and Cache. The software can migrate any of these databases' data between one another.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:24 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 01, 2014

New MPE 8.0 includes cutting-edge remotes

Almost 10 years after the last update to MPE/iX -- the PowerPatch 2 of release 7.5 -- a new version of the operating system is emerging. What's being called MPE/iX 8.0 by the World OS ID board has begun to surface from the rogue collective of open source coders known as ReBoot.me, which has a website based in Macedonia.

HummingbirdIt's not known as this point how ReBoot.me got its hands on MPE/iX source code, but the modifications to the OS appeared to be demonstrated on an HP L-Class server. The new version was captured in a video released for a few hours on YouTube, but removed from North American, Asian, African, European and all Middle Eastern YouTube users. This 8.0 MPE/iX can still be viewed in a demo from viewers in the Bahamas, or any location that employs the domain .bs.

The secrecy appears to stem from some first-ever features on any operating system. Much like the groundbreaking memory space allocation of MPE/XL, the 8.0 release -- ReBoot.me calls it New MPE -- supports cloud hang time, self-repairing line breaks, and the manipulation of drone clusters. Seynor Blachboxe, the code-named spokesperson for the open sourcers, said the drone support was a late addition, one that helped fund the entire project.

Drone manipulation is a nascent computer science, even in 2014, Blachboxe said. His claims echo those of AeroVironment, a US defense contractor building bird-sized drones to extend government surveillance. With its roots running back to the real-time capabilities of RTE, the MPE DNA made it ready for the surveillance of hundreds of thousands of Drone Jobs simultaneously. ReBoot called these instances Hand Offs.

The cloud hang time feature automates and monitors any service interruptions that may be caused by meterological impacts, according to the ReBoot team. The New MPE does a constant rebuild of its accounts structure while handling intensive IO requests, making the software able to restore to its latest stateless image in a matter of millseconds during an interruption.

"You won't be able to see the downtime, and you won't be able to see the drones, either," Blachboxe said on the YouTube video. "This entire release is really about not seeing anything new that's happening within MPE." Licensing battles look like they may be highly visible, however, since ReBoot was not among the eight licensed owners of the MPE/iX source code released during 2010.

The open sourcers appeared to be unfazed by the prospect of battling Hewlett-Packard over rights to a product it no longer sells or supports. Citing a list of legal projects and management efforts tied to more critical needs for the vendor, the coding group said it doesn't expect a challenge that will be recognized in its sovereign nations.

"Winning that lawsuit wouldn't contribute enough to HP's bottom line to make their investors happy with the legal expense," Blachboxe said.

UTC 530Eager beta testers managed to download a handful of builds for the New MPE during the hours that the YouTube video was first visible. These releases could only be activated -- by use of an HP 792 terminal attached to an HP Cloud partition -- during the rolling 24 hour period of 04-01-14, as recognized in the vicinity of coordinates -49.591071, 69.497378, (click on map at right for detail) using the UTC +5:30 as a base. A beta-test version of 8.0 includes the first access to GPS coordinates, to locate a user's system and authorize the download, Blachboxe explained.

"If a user can't figure that out, they won't be of the caliber of computer professional we'd like to test this release," he said. "It's New MPE, after all."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:47 AM in Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (3)

March 03, 2014

Cloudy night shows that it's Magic Time

WideWorldStandHeadServer drives churn, routers flash, and time machines transport us through the power of stories. In our own community we are connected by wires and circuits and pulses of power. We always were, from days of black arts datacomm pushing data on cards of punched paper. We’ve lived through a glorious explosion of ideas and inspiration and instruction. It’s the movie that always has another story in waiting, this Internet. So ubiquitous we’ve stopped calling it by that name. In 2014, 40 years after MPE became viable and alive, the World Wide Web is named after an element common throughout the physical world: The Cloud.

NClass movieAnd through the magic of these clouds come stories that lead us forward and allow us to look back at solved challenges. My partner Abby and I sit on the sofa these days and play with paper together, crossword puzzles, especially on weekends with the New York Times and LA Times puzzles. We look up answers from that cloud, and it delivers us stories. The Kingston Trio’s hit BMT leads us to The Smothers Brothers, starting out as a comic folksinger act. After video came alive for the HP 3000 in HP strategy TV broadcasts via satellite, there were webinars. Today, YouTube holds stories of the 3000’s shiniest moment, the debut of the ultimate model of that server.

Gravity - George ClooneyLast night we sat on another couch in the house and watched the splashiest celebration of stories in our connected world, the Academy Awards. Despite racking up a fistful and more of them, Gravity didn’t take the Best Picture prize. You can have many elements of success, parts of being the best, and not end up named the winner of the final balloting. The 3000 saw a similar tally, a raft of successes, but the light began to fade. In the movies they call the last light of the day magic time, because it casts the sweetest shades on the players and settings.

It’s magic time for many of the 3000’s stalwart members of its special academy. The 3000’s remaining a time machine in your reaches of space. Data is like gravity, a force to unify and propel. MPE systems contain ample gravity: importance to users, plus the grounding of data. It becomes information, then stories, and finally wisdom.

And in our magic time, we are blessed with the time machine of the Web, the cloud. You can look up earlier wisdom of this community online, written in stories, illustrated in video, told via audio. Find it in the cloud at the following resources:

The HP Computer Museum

3K Associates

The hosts of the HP Jazz papers, Client Systems and Fresche Legacy

The MM II Support Group

MPE Open Source.org

Plus, the companies that have kept websites stocked with stories about how to keep the magic lantern light of your system flashing onto screens. I’m grateful to have been part of that set of producers, directors and writers for the screen. It’s an exciting time to be able to move paper, as well as move beyond it with the speed of electrons. We’ve all grasped the tool of the Web with our whole hearts — even while we remember how to gather in a room like all those moviemakers did, to remember. There are many ways to honor the art of our story. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:41 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 12, 2014

How Shaved Sheep Help Macs Link to 3000s

The HP 3000 never represented a significant share of the number of business servers installed around the world. When the system's highest census was about 50,000, it was less than a tenth of the number of Digital servers, or IBM System 36-38s. Not to mention all of the Unix servers, or the Windows that began to run businesses in the 1990s.

SheepShaverIf you'd be honest, you could consider the 3000 to have had the footprint in the IT world that the Macintosh has in the PC community. Actually, far less, considering that about 1 in 20 laptop-desktops run Apple's OS today. Nevertheless, the HP 3000 community never considered Macs a serious business client to communicate with the 3000. The desktops were full of Windows machines, and MS-DOS before that. Walker, Richer & Quinn, Tymlabs, and Minisoft took the customers into client-server waters. All three had Mac versions of their terminal emulators. But only one, from Minisoft, has survived to remain on sale today.

MinisoftMac92That would be Minisoft 92 for the Mac, and Doug Greenup at Minisoft will be glad to tell a 3000 shop that needs Mac-to-3000 connectivity how well it hits the mark, right up to the support of the newest 10.9 version of the OS X. "Minisoft has a Macintosh version that supports the Maverick OS," Greenup said. "Yes, we went to the effort to support the latest and greatest Apple OS."

WRQ ReflectionBut there were also fans of the WRQ Reflection for Mac while it was being sold, and for good reason. The developer of the software came to WRQ from Tymlabs, a company that was one of the earliest converts to Apple to run the business with, all while understanding the 3000 was the main server. The first time I met anyone from Tymlabs -- much better known as vendor of the BackPack backup program -- Marion Winik was sitting in front of an Apple Lisa, the precursor to the Mac. Advertising was being designed by that woman who's now a celebrated essayist and memoir writer.

What's all that got to do with a sheep, then? That WRQ 3000 terminal emulator for the Mac ran well, executing the classic Reflection scripting, but then Apple's jump to OS X left that product behind. So if you want to run a copy of Reflection for Mac, you need to emulate a vintage Mac. That doesn't require much Apple hardware. Mostly, you need SheepShaver, software that was named to mimic the word shape-shifter -- because SheepShaver mimics many operating environments. The emulation is of the old Mac OS, though. It's quite the trick to make a current day Intel machine behave like a computer that was built around Apple's old PowerPC chips. About the same caliber of trick as making programs written in the 1980s for MPE V run on Intel-based systems today. The future of carry-forward computing is virtualization, rooted in software. But it's the loyalty and ardor that fuel the value for such classics as the 3000, or 1990-2006 Macs.

Barry Lake of Allegro took note of SheepShaver as a solution to how to get Reflection for Mac to talk to an HP 3000. The question came from another 3000 vet, Mark Ranft.

I've been looking for a copy of Reflection for Mac.  It is no longer available from WRQ/Attachmate. I've looked for old copies on eBay without any luck.  Does anyone know where a copy may be available, and will it still run on OSX Mavericks (10.9)?

Lake replied

It was possible to run the "Classic" versions of Reflection under OS X up through Tiger (10.4). Sadly, Apple dropped Classic support in Leopard (10.5). The only way to run Classic apps now is in some sort of virtual environment. I've been doing this for many years, and quite happily so, using SheepShaver.

But you have to find a copy of the old Mac OS ROM somewhere, and have media (optical or digital) containing a Classic version of Mac OS.

As with so many things that were once sold and supported, the OS ROM can be had on the Web by following that link above. That Mac OS ROM "was sort of a 'mini operating system' that was embedded in all the old Macs, one which acted as an interface between the hardware and the OS," Lake explains. "It allowed a standard OS to be shipped which could run on various different physical machines.

Modern operating systems simply ship with hundreds of drivers -- most of which are never used -- so that the OS (might be Windows or linux or even Mac OS X) is able to run on whatever hardware it happens to find itself on. But this of course, has resulted in enormous bloat, so the operating systems now require gigabytes of storage even for a basic installation.

The beauty of the old Mac OS ROM is that the ROM was customized for each machine model, so that endless drivers didn't have to be included in the OS, and therefore the OS could be kept small and lean.

Lake said that althought using SheepShaver to run the favorite 3000 terminal emulator "took a modest effort to set up, it has been working beautifully for me for years. And yes, it works on the Intel Macs (the Power PC instruction set is emulated, of course)."

So here's an open source PowerPC Apple Macintosh emulator. Using SheepShaver (along with the appropriate ROM image) it is possible to emulate a PowerPC Macintosh computer capable of running Mac OS 7.5.2 through 9.0.4. Builds of SheepShaver are available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:56 PM in History, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 07, 2014

Code-cutter Comparing Solutions for 3000s

Npp-compareWhen a 3000 utility goes dark — because its creator has dropped MPE/iX operations, or the trail to the support business for the tool has grown faint — the 3000 community can serve up alternatives quickly. A mature operating system and experienced users offer options that are hard to beat.

One such example was Aldon Computing's SCOMPARE development tool, once a staple for 3000-based developers. It compared source files for more than 15 years in the HP 3000 world. Eventually Aldon left the MPE business. But there are a fistful of alternatives. Allegro Consultants offers a free MPE/iX solution in SCOM, located at

www.allegro.com/software/hp3000/allegro.html

At that Web page, scroll down to SCOM. Other candidates included a compare UDC from Robelle, GNU Diff, diff in the HP 3000's Posix environment, and more. If you're willing to go off the MPE reservation -- and a lot of developers work on PCs by now -- there's even a free plug-in for Notepad++, that freeware source code editor which relaces Notepad in Windows. You can download that plug-in as an open source tool at SourceForge.net

When the subject first surfaced, Bruce Collins of Softvoyage offered details on using diff in the HP 3000's Posix.

run diff.hpbin.sys;info="FILE1 FILE2"

The file names use HFS syntax so they should be entered in upper case. If the files aren't in the current account or group, they should be entered as /ACCOUNT/GROUP/FILE

Donna Hofmeister offered a tip on using Robelle's compare UDC:

Regarding Robelle's compare.  Being a scripting advocate, I strongly recommend adapting their UDC into a script.... and take a few seconds to add a wee bit of help text to the script, to make life more enjoyable for all (which is the reason for scripting, yes?)

Other environments that might be operating in the 3000 datacenter provide alternatives. Former HP engineer Lars Appel brought up a Linux option in the KDE development environment:

If using KDE, you might also find Kompare handy...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kompare (see screenshot)

On MPE, as others mentioned, there is still the Posix diff in two flavours: the HP-supplied in /bin and the GNU version that lives in /usr/local/bin. The former allows two output formats (diff and diff -c); the latter also allows “diff -u”.

Oh, regarding /bin/diff on MPE... I sometimes got “strange” errors (like “file too big”) from it when trying to compare MPE record oriented files. A workaround was to use tobyte (with -at options) to created bytestream files for diff’ing.

Appel has noted the problem of comparing numbered files, like COBOL source files, when one or both files have been renumbered.

With Posix tools, one might use cut(1) with -c option to “peel off” the line number columns before using diff(1) for comparing the “meat”. Something in the line of ... /bin/cut -c7-72 SourceFile1 > BodyText1.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:25 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 04, 2014

Making Domain Magic, at an Efficient Cost

DomainFive years ago, HP cancelled work on the DNS domain name services for MPE/iX. Not a lot of people were relying on the 3000 to be handling their Internet hosting, but the HP decision to leave people on their own for domain management sealed the deal. If ever there was something to be migrated, it was DNS.

But configuring DNS software on a host is just one part of the Internet tasks that a 3000-savvy manager has had to pick up. One of the most veteran of MPE software creators, Steve Cooper of Allegro, had to work out a fresh strategy to get domains assigned for his company, he reports.

We have been using Zerigo as our DNS hosting service for a number of years now, quite happily.  For the 31 domains that we care for, they have been charging us $39 per year, and our current year has been pre-paid through 2014-08-07.

 We received an e-mail explaining exciting news about how their service will soon be better-than-ever.  And, how there will be a slight increase in costs, as a result.  Instead of $39 per year, they will now charge $63 per month. A mere 1900% increase!  And, they won't honor our existing contract either.  They will take the pro-rated value of our contract on January 31, and apply that towards their new rates.  (I don't even think that's legal.)

 In any case, we are clearly in the market for a new DNS Hosting provider. Although I am not a fan of GoDaddy, their website. or their commercials, they appear to offer a premium DNS Hosting service, with DNSSEC, unlimited domains, etc. for just $2.99 per month.  Sounds too good to be true.

Cooper was searching for experience with that particular GoDaddy service. GoDaddy has been a default up to now, but acquiring a domain seems to need more tech savvy from support. The 3000 community was glad to help this other kind of migration, one to an infrastructure that MPE never demanded. The solution turned out to be one from the Southern Hemisphere, from a company whose hub is in a country which HP 3000 experts Jeanette and Ken Nutsford call home.

Cooper said that some 3000 vets suggested "rolling my own," self-hosting with his external DNS. Here's a few paragraphs addressing those two topics:

We have a dual-zoned DNS server inside our firewall, but we do not have it opened to the the outside world.  Instead, only our DNS hosting service has access to it.  The DNS hosting service sees itself as a Slave server and our internal server as the Master server.  However, our registrars point to that external DNS hosting service, not our internal server, so the world only interrogates our DNS hosting service when they need to resolve an address in one of our 31 domains.

 Why don't we open it up to the world?  Well, we get between 200,000 and 3,000,000 DNS lookups per month.  I don't want that traffic on our internal network.  There are also DDoS attacks and other exploits that I want no part of.  And, since some of our servers are now in the Cloud, such as our mail, webserver, and iAdmin server, I don't want to appear to disappear, if our internet connection is down.  Best to offload all of that, to a company prepared to handle that.

When I need to make a change, I do it on our internal DNS server, and within a few seconds, those changes have propagated to our DNS hosting service, without the need for any special action.  The best of both worlds.

 Now, on to the issue from earlier in the month.  Our DNS hosting service, Zerigo,  announced that they were raising rates by 1900%.  And, our first attempt at a replacement was GoDaddy.  Although the information pages at GoDaddy sounded promising, they made us pay before we could do any testing. After three days of trying to get it to work, and several lengthy calls to GoDaddy support, they finally agreed that their service is broken, and they can't do what they advertised, and refunded our money.

The biggest problem at GoDaddy is that I (as the customer) was only allowed to talk to Customer Service.  They in turn, could talk to the lab people who could understand my questions and problems.  But the lab folks were not allowed to talk to me, only the Customer Service people.  This is not a way to do support, as those of us in the support business know full well.

  Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 6.09.48 PMAfter more research, I hit upon what appears to be a gem of a company: Zonomi. They are a New Zealand based company with DNS servers in New York, Texas, New Zealand, and the UK.  And, they let you set up everything and run with it for a month before you have to pay them anything. We were completely switched over with about an hour of effort.

 Now, the best news: they are even cheaper than our old DNS hosting service used to be.  If you have a single, simple domain, then they will host you for free, forever.  If you have a more complex setup, as we do, the cost is roughly US $1 per year, which beats the $63 per month Zerigo wanted to charge. The first ten domains cost $10 per year, then you add units of five more domains for $5 per year.

 The only risk I can see is if they go out of business.  In that case, I could just open our firewall and point our domains to our internal server, until I could find a replacement.  So, that seems reasonable.

 That problem is solved.  On to the next fire.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:17 PM in Migration, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 23, 2013

A Place to Make Plans for Transition

Websites offer a world of advice on how to move toward the future with ease. There's nothing easier than tapping a webinar to find out more about making an HP 3000 transition. And no company has even come within several leagues of teaching with webinars like MB Foster does.

Wednesdays are the regular date, with the presentations starting at 2PM Eastern US time. Today's talk, with an interactive segment as well (Birket Foster asks for questions throughout) is on Application Decommissioning. Even at a place where the 3000 is likely to run another four years, like MacLean-Fogg manufacturers, a custom MPE app will go out of production mode, someday. 

Today's talk (register at the MB Foster website, and get your audio via IP or phone) focuses on the legacy data process and compliance issues in your plans for such a decommission. That data will be moving forward, just as surely as those disk packs at MacLean-Fogg moved on to the next 3000 after a flood. Data always moves onward, but it's no easy task without planning.

"In a time when cost cutting is a necessity, decommissioning legacy application data offers companies cost savings, and resource efficiencies," Foster's website proposes, "all while meeting compliance for your business and legal requirements to retain and access data."

The company's been illuminating the key issues that can serve both homesteading and migration missions. Sometimes this kind of modernization serves homesteading, and then modernization. The list of what's been covered over the last five years of webinars is impressive. There's two more on the way, November 6 and November 20.

November 6 covers Automating Windows Processes and Batch Jobs: learn how you can automate windows processes and manage data processing jobs (scripts), view output, maintain complex scheduling dependencies and relationships easily and effectively. People try to do this after a transition using Windows Task Manager, which lets you schedule many tasks. It's no substitute for the power and control you enjoyed on the HP 3000.

On November 6 the webinar covers Measuring for Meaning, KPI's, Dashboards and ODS. That last acronym stands for Operational Data Stores. KPIs provide visibility into a business’s vital signs, using metrics and dashboards. Moving to bigger-scope IT, which is usually part of a migration or modernization, introduces an IT pro to these strategies.

Many other subjects have been part of the webinar curriculum. Data migration challenges, including a live demonstration of a copy between an HP 3000 IMAGE database to a SQL Server database. Another talk shared data migration best practices. Last year you could learn about the advances in the new Eloquence database and language. The drop-in replacement for IMAGE at migrating 3000 sites gained full text search in the database.

There was a look at the elements of Big Data as they relate to IT planning. For homesteaders, issues got examined on how to transition supporting your customer applications for HP 3000s. 3000 sites are still renewing commitments to using the server for another 3-5 years. A company with experience in serving customers through applications can help companies extend the life of their systems.

There's also been scheduling challenges for Windows managers, synchronization of data. Tips on decommissioning of data. How to plan for Mean Time To Recovery of Operations. Spend about 45 minutes on some Wednesday, today or soon, and get to the place where transition planning sets up shop.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:08 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 14, 2013

Support paywall can seem to hide manuals

We're investigating another point of confusion between HP's MPE/iX and 3000 manuals and the 3000 community. Donna Hofmeister, one of the former OpenMPE directors who heard HP's promise to keep these manuals available to the general public, emailed us this report.

It appears that HP has cut off public access to the MPE manuals. If you use HP's link through its Business Support Center, and go thru a couple of clicks... you'll eventually be asked for support credentials.

In my opinion, this shouldn't be the case for MPE manuals (since, after all, who has HP's MPE support anyhow?). HP agreed to continue to allow access to the MPE things (including patches) when they vendor was negotiating with OpenMPE.

Hofmeister noted that the patches are still available for free. The good news is that the 3000 community has been compiling the manuals outside HP's servers, just to ensure the vendor kept its promise of open access to 3000 documentation. And there is a more concealed path into the manuals today. Just not through the front door Hofmeister was using.

Straight to the point, things are changing in the HP support operations and its access for users. A support contract might be required, in HP's confusion over the 3000's place on the website, if you head in through the wrong address. Or read a recent HP email.

Last week the HP enterprise computer users received an email that proclaimed the patches and other support materials for servers like the Integrity line and its operating environments would only be available to users who had a current support contract with HP. Hewlett-Packard doesn't support the 3000 or MPE anymore -- a fact the vendor reminded users about constantly in the months leading to the end of support in December, 2010. 

So there's no way to pay for support that would deliver access to MPE materials. Which is why HP told OpenMPE and the 3000 community the access would be free.

Manuals at MMsupportIndependent support companies, third parties and adept managers have been squirreling away the manuals for years by now. In addition to a core set of manuals at yet another HP website address, linked to by Applied Technologies via a direct link off mpe-opensource.org, MM Support has a wide array of these manuals for download. MM Support, a group of 3000 veterans who created the MM/3000 ERP software, says it's hosting these documents, organized by function as well as alphabetically, because of "the great love we have for the HP 3000."

The following list is a beginning. We have laid the HP 3000 MPE Manuals out in a manner that is friendly to use. We will try and have both HTML and PDF format for the HP3000 Manuals. 

As we've noted, MPE patches seem to be available without support credentials. Hofmeister says you need a lot of patience. You're likely to get asked about the HP 3000 latex printer a few times.

I'm still sending people to HP to get patches. Last one was maybe a month ago. The process seems to work, although I always caution them to be prepared to be patient. Getting through the front-line call handlers can be difficult :-(

I suspect many people downloaded all the patches while the FTP site was still available. But in my opinion, they'd be well advised to at least be very careful about who they give these patches to, since HP seems to be in a litigious mood.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:16 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 11, 2013

The Comment-y Stylings of Tim O'Neill

ComedymicComment sections of blogs are usually tar pits of abusive and misdirected retorts. I feel lucky that comments on the Newswire's blog have been otherwise, for the most part. On many tech blogs the comments that follow a story devolve at lightning pace into rants about the NSA, partisan politics, the insulting disappointments of Windows/Apple/Google, or the zen koan of climate change.

Tim O'Neill has lifted up the reputation of commenting to an enabling art. The manager of a 3000 system in Maryland, he's become prolific in his messages that echo or take a counterpoint to the stories we run here. His comment count is running at 15 over just the past five months. For our unique but modest-sized outpost of 3000 lore and learning, that's a lot. He's got a comment for almost one in every five stories.

CommentsHP's actions of 12 years ago are still a sore point with some 3000 managers. Count O'Neill among them. We ran a story yesterday about HP's best case scenario for 2014: it will lose sales more slowly than this year. Some new products will get R&D focus. Pockets of sales growth will pop up. Overall, less revenue, for yet another year.

O'Neill shot off a comment within an hour of our story.

This does not sound too hopeful, if the best they can promise is slowing the rate of revenue decline while at the same time spending $3B on R&D. At the same time, they have essentially no cutting-edge mobile products (and no WebOS,) a stagnant flagship OS (HP-UX, no new releases in about a decade) a second flagship OS sentenced to death (OpenVMS -- HP finally kills the last of the DEC that they hated for decades) and shuttered sales and support offices (relying on VARs and the Web for sales, instead of interpersonal interaction.)

O'Neill never fails to note that a retained 3000 business would be helping HP, even today. "Meanwhile, the long-ago-jilted MPE lives on, ancient LaserJets continue to crank out print jobs and make money for toner refillers (I still have LJ 2000 and 4000 series printer in service,) and digital signal generators (HP, not Agilent) still generate signals. They do still make nice new printers. Maybe they should buy Blackberry to get into the smartphone business."

It's great to have a chorus behind you when reporting on one 3000 news item after another. It's even better when there's a consistently different-sounding voice on webpages. If there was an Andy Rooney position on the 3000 Newswire's stable of contributors, O'Neill could fill that post.

When my story this week noted that a few N-Class servers, to be mothballed at HP's datacenter next week, would be available for purchase, O'Neill took another tack.
Customers should not be buying cast-off 3000s if they can help it. Instead, they should be ramping up for the future and buying Stromasys-ready hardware.

O'Neill has left fat pitches for other readers to comment upon. "I wonder if anybody still has an HP 150?" Or "Does anybody remember the name of the company that was marketing a wireless 3000 terminal in the late 1980s?" Then there are these comments below, in response to articles about the HP Computer Museum needing older computers, or a new iPad app that gives the 3000 user a wireless terminal for apps or console work.

Well I think the Terminal-on-a-Tablet is a great idea, and gosh we could have really used that and a wireless link 10 years ago when we needed to constantly interact with MPE. I can see great usefulness for people who are using MPE actively, e.g for inventory. It gives one more reason to stay with MPE and one more reason to buy Stromasys boxes on which to run MPE.

Gosh, I wonder if anyone still has a HP 150? It was coolest thing! But people here only used it for a terminal!

O'Neill can also find a silver lining in a report about two 3000 experts replacing themselves (due to age) and moving off an app built long ago.

This article amply demonstrates that: 1) MPE is extremely good at OLTP and business management processes, and is not easily replaced 2) MPE is very cost-effective (e.g. this company had to increase staff after MPE, and 3) "Migration" is incorrect terminology, and vendors made a lot of money, once, by doing it. Now, "if only" a consortium such as a modern-day OpenMPE or OSF could be created, to take command!

Not too many readers remember, or can put into context, the aims of the OSF (the Open Software Foundation) as they related to the HP 3000. OSF was about putting common software platforms in place across Unix servers from many vendors. HP did hope that Posix on MPE would help port some software to the 3000. Both projects fell short of such hopes. O'Neill is hopeful in a way I've rarely seen about the prospects for a rebound of MPE.

I say that with the advent of Stromasys and the interest from application developers who wrote for the HP 3000, there is now the opportunity for the community to form a company to begin marketing MPE/iX. The world is ready for a stable, secure, alternative to the out-of-control Linuxes and the costly well-known operating systems.

He has observations on the differences in vendors serving his company, sparked by news that HP's taken a dive out of the Dow 30.

"Dive" is being kind. They were thrown out. As an example of their inablity to market themselves, the following is illustrative. Next week Dell Computer will host a technical day at our facility. This will be the second such day in the past six months. Customers go and hear the latest. HP has equal opportunity to rent the space, purvey the lunch, and pitch their wares to willing listeners. HP does not do it. Too few sales people spread too thin?

It's been nice to be noticed, but as you can see from the comment string off our front page, not all of it has been complimentary. Recent reporting on OpenMPE got rapped by a pair of principals who were onstage at the end of the organization's activity. But the rarest of things, outright praise for memories, appeared after I wrote about what we all miss from the August HP conferences of our past years.

It is poignant and evocative, meaning if I were an emotional person, it would have brought me to tears. I actually attended the [August] 1996 show in Anaheim! There I had the privilege of speaking with Fred White, who predicted the demise of MPE while on the sidewalk outside the convention center, as well as the subsequent demise of HP-UX. (When was the last new release of HP-UX? Years ago, right?) You wrote that Interex (later HP World) always left people "invigorated, rededicated or just stirred up." True. "Rededicated" rhymes with "medicated" which, nowadays, we HP 3000 people feel as though we need to be! It will be interesting to see how Stromasys emulation will work with VMWare, of which we are heavy users.

I invite you to write a comment for your own pleasure and our information. Whether you shoot this messenger or toss kudos, it will make its way into our shared story.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:09 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 04, 2013

HP's documents for 3000s are in the open

Yesterday we bemoaned the lack of working, sensible links for 3000 documents at Hewlett-Packard websites. Links go rotten all the time on the Web. But you'd hope that an enterprise computer vendor might put a better face out there about products it still controls. Well, at least the control of the intellectual property rights.

Give thanks for your independent community, because that's where the elusive information has washed up, like a survivor from a vendor's shipwreck. Brian Edminster updated us on where those 3000 and MPE documents can be found. It's not an HP website. Yesterday I wrote, "The whereabouts of MPE manuals at HP sites is a treasure hunt with no apparent prize at the moment." Edminster replied

I can help with this. www.MPE-OpenSource.org has the current links to the HP MPE/iX manuals.

Navigation via the menus/pulldowns is: (from the site's homepage at MPE-OpenSource.org:)

[Porting Helps]

      [Manuals & Other] Documentation Materials

             [MPE/iX Core Manual Sets] - which has individual links to the 6.x and 7.x manual sets, and which when clicked will open in a new window.

Edminster goes on to offer " a direct link for the menu challenged among us"

And when they do finally fall to the dreaded 'link-rot' (either due to lack of link forwarding, or just plain being taken offline), I have mirrored both v6.x and v7.x manual pages and content, and can make them available directly, if necessary.

There's also the HP MM Support site's copy of HP Manuals (www.hpmmsupport.com/information_links/default.aspx). Plus I'm pretty sure there's a copy at the 'Internet Archives' (www.archive.org) and/or at bitsavers (www.bitsavers.org).  Of course, there's copies that individuals have in PDF format in their own archives -- or heaven forbid, in the original printed-on-paper format.

So no need to panic. There are still organizations and individuals working to make sure MPE and 3000 documentation is available, for as long as necessary.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:44 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 03, 2013

HP's missing notes as Jazz plays on for 3000

Information that HP licensed for its Jazz support server lives on at two North American HP 3000 vendor sites. While items like white papers and instructions remain intact at Freshe Legacy (formerly Speedware) and Client Systems, the links at Hewlett-Packard references for the 3000 are playing like they're off-key notes.

Jazz is the accepted name for a collection of papers, downloads and software instructions first created by Jerri Ann Smith in the HP 3000 labs. Nicknamed after her initials JAS, Jazz grew full of free help during the 1990s as the vendor worked to sustain its MPE business and service its customers.

HP's Manual pageWhen HP closed down the labs that maintained Jazz, it licensed the use of these materials to Fresche and to Client Systems. Much of the material remains useful for the 3000 manager who's sustaining a server in homesteading or pre-migration missions. But a click on many links to HP drives users to a Hewlett-Packard technical documentation website where the 3000 knowledge is buried deeper than all but the most patient or seasoned owners can uncover.

Even a request to establish an HP Passport account, which might yield more information, generates an Internal Server Error from Hewlett-Packard today. Everybody's website can have this kind of problem from time to time, but standards for the maker and caretaker of an operating system should be higher than nearly everybody.

 At the Fresche Legacy site -- known as hpmigrations.com -- a white paper on a Posix scanner is among the software listed.

A Posix scanner? It's a toolkit "that is useful to analyze an application you may want to port to the HP3000. In two steps, external functions called by the code are collected and then reduced into a report showing which functions are or are not available on MPE/iX."

Perhaps of more use to those who aren't porting to MPE is the VT3K software, which links a 3000 with a server HP was calling an HP 9000. That 9000 should be running HP-UX 10.20, a genuinely antique release of HP's Unix.

VT3K allows you to establish a Virtual Terminal connection from a HP9000 to a HP3000. This version of VT3K is being made available to those HP3000 users that are planning on using HP OpenView IT/Operations to manage their HP3000 systems. This version of VT3K is supported on HP-UX servers running 10.20. VT3K is required in order to install the IT/Operations MPE agent on the HP3000.

Speedware HP 3000Fresche isn't responsible for the condition of the links to HP's documentation on the 3000 however, those listed under Jazz at its server. www.docs.hp.com/mpeix/all returns nothing but 404 Not Found connections. The whereabouts of MPE manuals at HP sites is a treasure hunt with no apparent prize at the moment.

But at the Jazz sites you can find SETDATE, which alters the date in a current session under MPE/iX. The sell-by date for HP's links is in such a state that a support company guide might be the only way to uncover what used to be open and hosted by the 3000's creator. Any link that can deliver a document from the licensed independent companies is operative. But a wall of inscrutable web links appears in any reference to HP's own websites. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:36 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 13, 2013

Glossary to the Future: ITIL, APM, and rank

NavyinsigniaA 3000 manager's career was once rooted in technology. In the future it will be rooted in management, even when the 3000 in the datacenter is a virtualized one. The most secure place to manage IT is on an executive team. ITIL and APM can help get you earn enough rank to get a seat at that table. (Rank, not stripes, but we'll get to that in a minute.)

Tomorrow, MB Foster offers a webinar on these two concepts. One is a standard (ITIL) and the other a strategy (Application Portfolio Management). Both are designed to make your work more essential to your employer.

"The challenge for IT is adopting a business- and customer-focused approach in terms of delivering high quality IT services," Foster's invitation explains. "Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) mitigates these challenges." 

Application Portfolio Management (APM) provides IT departments and management visibility and clearly defines insight into critical applications and data with actionable information on the business value and fit and the technical condition of each application.

The webinar starts at 2PM EDT tomorrow, with an online signup at Foster's website. When combined, ITIL and APM provide guidance to organizations on how to use IT to facilitate business change, transformation, growth and benefits -- and where to focus investment. It's an interesting time for enterprise server management, with cloud and virtualization options front and center. Investment is going to be a constant wedge to get into corporate discussions.  

What do ITIL and APM have to do with the HP 3000? More than five years ago, the enterprise computer user group Connect said the audience it serves includes far fewer technologists, as it called them. That doesn't necessarily mean there are few technologists out there, but it's become historic thinking to believe they'll get a place in the corporate conversation.

Or as HP's CEO Meg Whitman said in a speech at a conference hosted at Disneyland last month, "Everyone in this room is no longer down in the engine room of the ship. You are all up in the bridge consulting with the captain. She added that HP "is here to help you earn your stripes," which is where her nautical metaphor broke down. (A technologist would point out that most captains of ships wear their rank on their shoulders, but only sometimes on their sleeves.)

We've written about ITIL and APM before today (The new IT library that HP reads, and writes; as well as App Portfolio Management: Get IT into the Boardroom). But six years later, these are still in the future for some 3000 managers. Foster's webinar promises to explain how these concepts can help in the following:

• Aligning IT services with business needs
• Known and manageable IT costs
• Financial savings from improved resource management
• Effective change management
• Improve time to market for new products and services
• Improved user and customer satisfaction

ITIL defines the services required by the business units and puts in place service definitions for the services provided, including SLA’s (Service Level Agreements). IT services are crucial functions that require continual investments and resources to support, deliver and maintain IT systems. The challenge for IT departments and managers is adopting, a business and customer focused approach in terms of delivering high quality IT services. 

Implementation of APM and its process, measurement and framework will effect decision making, application lifecycle, current and future IT investments, upgrades, operations, replacements and budgets. Application Portfolio Management will make the current state of the application portfolio visible and quantify the current applications by business fit and IT fit.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:29 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 25, 2013

Where Three 3000 Pros Have Gone

Jon Diercks. Jim Sartain. Jim Hawkins. Each of these pros have had a large profile for the HP 3000 community. If one of these J-Men escaped your attention, we can recap. But first, understand that all technology prowess moves on -- not just MPE's -- hungry for the next challenge.

JondiercksDiercks is the author of the only professional handbook for MPE/iX. Written during the year 2000 and published less than six months before HP's 3000 exit announcement, The MPE/iX System Administrator's Handbook is virtually out of print by now, but Diercks still has his hand in 3000 administration, on the side. He raffled off author copies of his book at the 2011 HP3000 Reunion. The book remains alive on the O'Reilly Safari website, where it can be referenced through your browser via your Safari subscription.

IPadCharonToday he's the IT director for a tax accounting and financial services firm in Northern California. In his spare time he's managed to put the console screen for the HP 3000 emulator onto an iPad for control. First time we've ever seen that done; the 3000's native MPE/iX colon prompt has been there before, but not a BYOD interface for the Stromasys product. See for yourself, above.

SartainJim Sartain became the essence of IMAGE at HP while it was adding its SQL to its name. In his final work at the vendor, he ran the Open Skies division of the HP 3000 unit at Hewlett-Packard. What's that, you may ask. In the late 1990s, general manager Harry Sterling bought a software company outright to capture 3000 business and prove the server was capable of modern IT. Open Skies offered online reservations software for JetBlue, RyanAir, Virgin Express and AirTran, among others. 

Today Sartain has become a VP again, this time at another software icon. After managing quality assurance for Intuit, Adobe and McAfee, he's leading the Engineering 4.0 Initiative for Symantec. As usual, Sartain is reaching for the big goal. The initiative will "transform Symantec Product Development world-wide," according to his page at LinkedIn. He's running an Engineering Services organization for the company's security, tools and shared software components.

When TurboIMAGE was facing a campaign of disrepute at Hewlett-Packard in the early 1990s -- one of the database's darkest times -- Sartain was in charge of sparking new engineering requests for the 3000 keystone. Sartain may be best-known in the 3000 community, however, for work he led in response to a customer revolt in 1990.

Once customers expressed their displeasure at a waning emphasis on IMAGE, the 3000 division of 1991 had to respond with improvements. Sartain was directly responsible for HP's offering of an SQL interface for IMAGE, the first advance that signaled CSY’s commitment to what the unit called the Customer First strategy. Sartain worked with a revived IMAGE special-interest group to revitalize the database. Dynamic detail dataset expansion and third-party interface work also began on his watch.

HawkinsAnother HP Jim, Hawkins, was among the last deep-technical pros to work on MPE/iX at the vendor. His name became synonymous on the 3000 newsgroup with IO expertise, and for more than six years he worked post HP-announcement to lead "various Roadmap teams to deliver on HP e3000 end-of-life roadmaps to meet basic customer and partner needs."

Hawkins can still be seen posting occassionally on the 3000 newsgroup, delivering engineering history that can be helpful for the IT pro still meeting IO issues. Today Hawkins has become HP's Integrity System Quality Program Manager, which includes programs to detect product issues earlier in the lifecycles of Proliant and rx2800 Integrity servers. He's still at the vendor after entering his 3000 era on the MPE customer and R&D support team in 1986.

These J-Men helped to build intelligence, software engineering and hardware prowess for the 3000. They're out in newer fields looking for challenges in technology. They all have worked in the era where HP wanted to be known as a 3000 customer's Trusted Advisor. You might say they're still proving that Trust Never Sleeps.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:56 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 16, 2013

Ecometry's clan plans for JDA changes

As our At-Large columnist Birket Foster wrote in February, application vendors get acquired and trigger changes. Even vendors who've already moved many customers off of the HP 3000. Some portion of the migrated Ecometry community, as well as those still running the MPE version of the ecommerce software, are weighing their timelines for migration and changes.

JDALogoThe company pulling that trigger is JDA, which merged with the current Ecometry owner RedPrairie early this year. The result has been a stable of 133 software products, between the two vendors' lineups. Every one of them has a story for the customer, a report still in the making for many products. JDA recently said that nothing will be discontinued for five years. That makes 2018 something of a execution deadline for retailers using Ecometry, which is being called Escalate Retail.

"This was a merger of equals," Foster told us last week, right after the company educated some managers on data migration practices. Neither of these entities want to obsolete a product, because that would be a big loss of revenue. If nothing else, the current customers pay support fees. If there's versions to upgrade towards, there might be upgrade license fees to pay.

The greater ricochet from the trigger-pull is mapping out and planning for the use of the surround code that supports Escalate Retail, as well as the MPE-based Ecometry. More companies than we'd think have a loose track on workflows that require surround tools, such as Suprtool -- which is pretty much essential to reporting and extracting data out of their applications.

The changes in the environment of ecommerce users became evident at the JDA conference this spring. About 100 people in the Ecometry community were on hand, by Foster's estimate. When the shows were Ecometry-only -- a long while back -- more than 500 attendees was common. There were fewer sessions offered for Ecometry customers who are now looking at if, and when, they'll need to make a migration away from their bedrock application.

How many fewer sessions? There were four Ecometry-specific sessions, plus the JDA super-session, to occupy the time of CIOs, IT directors and supporting third party vendors. "They were still adding content to the conference up to the last week," Foster said. As an element in last year's RedPrairie Focus conference, Ecometry sites had 10 sessions. Foster estimated that 300 people from the community were on hand.

JDA has moved its operations for the Ecometry software to India, a change that can require extra effort and patience to embrace for the customer. While the support of the product has been guaranteed for five more years, no software company will ever guarantee the quality of the support.

In the time before that support comes under review once again, a site that's moved along with the Ecometry migration path should come to understand their application's workflows. "You'll want to compare it to the new, approved solution [from JDA]," Foster said, JDA Direct Commerce. He added that documenting the current workflow is an essential step.

MB Foster's got a JDA-Ecometry update webinar set for July 17 (Wednesday) at 2 PM Eastern Time. Register at the website, especially if you're interested in surround code migration expertise, to plan and execute a migration to JDA Direct Commerce. "Attendees will learn about advantages and risk mitigation strategies that will allow you to get started and deliver a rough order of magnitude timeline to the senior management team," the website reports.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:09 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 15, 2013

OpenSSH may get unquiet for 3000's users

OpensshSavvy HP 3000 managers who need to move files securely are finding that SFTP works under MPE/iX. But OpenSSH, the root of the open source service for encrypted communication sessions over a computer network, is still short of being fully operational for the HP 3000's environment.

Brian Edminster, the senior consultant at Applied Technologies, explains that "with a bit of work, you could get OpenSSH v 3.7.1p2 working. If I recall correctly, the issue is that 'select' is busted under MPE/iX, and that's what's required for ssh to work correctly."

The fact remains: ssh cannot connect to a remote system and execute commands that produce any output. Ken Hirsch did the original port, but he only really needed the SFTP client -- so the issue with ssh wasn't addressed.   

Ken also posted on the 3000-L newsgroup in 2008, asking if there was any interest in getting an ssh and sshd/sftp-server working (server daemon) -- so the 3000 could do port forwarding, act as a SFTP server, receive inbound ssh connections, and so on. Apparently he didn't get enough response to carry forward.

Back in 2005, Hirsch posted his goal. 

I could get an interactive ssh client to work on MPE/iX.  I don't know how, but I know it's possible! It would not be possible to get an ssh server working in such as way that an ssh client could run any program. But it would be possible to get enough of the server running so that you could use the server to do port forwarding.

In 2008, he added the note which Edminster referenced. "If anybody knows a way to actually write to a terminal while there is a read pending, I could use OpenSSH as a server on the HP 3000. Apparently there are undocumented MPE/iX sendio() and rendezvousio() calls, of which I know nothing. There are also tread()/twrite() routines in libbsd.a that I think are intended for this, but there's no documentation for these, either."

There is another way to let SSH speak up on MPE, however.

Edminster, who keeps a repository of open source tools available for the community at his MPE-OpenSource website, said "OpenSSH isn't the only implementation of the ssh/sftp/scp protocol, although it is arguably the definitive open source one." He said he's looking for a client or two to help underwrite his R&D to port across this key encryption utility.

That said, in my 'copious' spare time, I'm working on porting the 'dropbear' ssh application.  It's much simpler, and much more restrictive -- but it appears to have a much greater chance of success than having to significantly rework OpenSSH to make it work under MPE/iX.  

Unfortunately, the current OpenSSH v 3.7.1p2 port meets my client's needs -- so if I want to spend any significant time on the dropbear (or other) ssh packages, I'll need a benefactor or two.

As always, if you have questions, don't be afraid to ask. If you have some spare time, try putting up SFTP (from Allegro or MPE-OpenSource) on your HP 3000. You'll find it suprisingly easy.

Hirsch said that with an interactive SSH client, an enterprising IT manager could tunnel a telnet connection over the SSH connection.

So on your PC, you would run:

ssh -L 9999:hp3k.yourcorp.com:23 justforwarding@hp3k.yourcorp.com

Then connect Reflection (or other terminal emulator) to localhost::9999

You can do this with an ssh server running on some computer other than the HP 3000, of course. Just set up a PC or Linux system as an ssh host. There would be a secure connection between the PC and sshhost.yourcorp.com and an unencrypted connection between sshhost and the HP 3000 (presumably both behind the same firewall).

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:44 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 10, 2013

Learn about the 1 migration for all: data

At 2 PM Eastern Time today MB Foster leads a seminar on the steps to migrate data. It's the one kind of migration that every IT manager, homesteading or migrating, will have to face over and over. Birket Foster's company, having migrated data for more than 30 years, is the leader in this field.

Offer up a question about data migration, even if you can't attend. We'll act as your proxy and take note of the answer. Sign up at the MB Foster website. The interface for the webinar is smooth and interactive. You can dial in by regular phone, or use IP telephony through your laptop or PC. As Foster says about Data Migrations Made Easy

The complexity of a data migration can't be underestimated. In this presentation we will look at the steps in a data migration project.

As thought leaders we will deliver practical methodologies to help you prevent costly disruptions and solve challenges. We will demonstrate techniques to lift and shift data to popular databases, manage complex data structures and mitigate risks using MB Foster’s processes and UDACentral, a data migration solution.

Let us help you design, control, automate and implement an internal data migration factory.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:47 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 24, 2013

Open source resource: Secure FTP on 3000

Even though FTP won't help much in transferring databases on an HP 3000, a lot of other data can be moved using File Transfer Protocol. The question of how to do this securely using SFTP just came up last week. We've covered the topic before, but a new contributor, Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies, chipped in with some advice and a new resource, built from open source.

The initial question:

I'm trying to use ftp.arpa.sys to FTP a file to a SFTP server and it just hangs. Is there a way to do a secure FTP from the HP 3000?

Brian Edminster replies:

The reason that using MPE's FTP client (ftp.arpa.sys) fails is because as similar as they sound, FTP and SFTP are VERY different animals. Fortunately, there is a SFTP client available for the 3000 -- the byproduct of work by Ken Hirsh and others.

It used to be hosted on Ken's account on Invent3K, but when that server was taken out of service, so was Ken's account. As you've no doubt already noticed, it's available from a number of sources (such as Allegro). I'd like to highlight another source: www.MPE-OpenSource.org

Edminster goes on to explain he administers that site, as well as puts together the 'pre-packaged' install available there. It's in a single store-to-disc file in Reflection 'WRQ' format, making it easy for the majority of sites to retrieve and use. Here's the URL:

http://www.mpe-opensource.org/navigation/Package_Name/sftpquick-start.html

I have a customer that's been using SFTP daily as part of their PCI compliance solution for several years. They push and pull data hourly from dozens of Point-of-Sale systems all over the country, and have moved lots of data this way.  

The biggest caveat from that customer's implementation is that if you're moving data over a WAN, SFTP seems to be more sensitive to jitter and latency issues than conventional FTP.  We ended up having to upgrade a couple of their more anemic 'last mile' circuits to accomodate that.  

In all other respects, it’s quite a robust solution, and can be tightly integrated with existing legacy apps. I know; I've done it.

If you have any questions about how to use the pre-packaged install -- or how to get around any limitations you might run into,-- don't hesitate to contact me. I've used this on dozens of systems over the last decade, and have transferred many, many gigabytes of data with it.

 

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:31 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 23, 2013

How app portfolios increase career value

PennyplantGetting an HP 3000 back into discussion at the boardroom level can be tough. In a lot of places still running MPE/iX applications, the programs that drive company computing have become invisible as the grain in a fine piece of wood that makes up a boardroom table. Application Portfolio Management (APM) can be a means to increase the visibility of HP 3000s.

And if that visibility leads to a more energized transition plan — because now the executive management sees how vital the MPE/iX application is to meeting company goals — that's a good thing as well. Retiring out with the HP 3000 is an option for some managers. For many others, outlasting the server is becoming the genuine challenge. Leaving a legacy as an IT pro, instead of the just the 3000 expert, is one way of nurturing a career.

You have to know how to treat applications as assets, to frame software as if it's as essential as cash on hand for a company. APM doesn't get cited much by the 3000 manager who's been a technologist to deliver value to a company. This is the business side of business computing. Learning more about it gives a manager a greater skill set. Best of all, these practices make it easier to justify IT acquisition and expansion and yes, even a migration with its profound expense.

Tomorrow (April 24) at 2PM Eastern Time, MB Foster is leading a 45-minute webinar with time for questions about APM as part of its bi-weekly Wednesday Webinars. "Do you want executive management to understand the condition of IT applications -- built, bought or accumulated through M&A, or acquired for a specific need -- and how they grow the business and how they affect future budgets?" The answer to that would probably be yes, just to ensure that the asset called the HP 3000 applications get their accurate valuation.


APM is a proven concept that can make a manager look more modern at an executive level. Best of all, according to CEO Birket Foster, it can be started with something as straightforward as an inventory. In 2007 when the concept was still gaining traction, he explained the introductory steps.

APM helps managers assess value to application assets. To begin, take an inventory of applications and clearly understand the current business and technology fit for each application. Publish the application portfolio so it can become a budget item visible to the management team.

I know, at first it may not be where you would like it to be, but it is what it is — there is nothing that can be done about the past. But when you start the process of APM, you can start managing a budget with the objective of aligning business needs with IT’s, with options for The Three Rs of Applications – remain, replace, or rehost. This way IT can get included at the management table and get the budget needed to renovate when required.

The APM process can have a profound effect on decision making. "It will clarify existing investments, application lifecycles, and any future investments, upgrades, operations, replacements and budgets related to the applications," Foster said in preparation for this Wednesday Webinar. "This will help the entire company know what IT needs to invest in to support the business, as well as the impact on the applications that are used by every department/business unit."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:54 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 02, 2013

CAMUS schedules Spring webinar for April

The ERP and manufacturing user group CAMUS will host its every-springtime user group event on April 17, including discussion about the future of MANMAN led by community advocate and 3000 veteran Terry Floyd of the Support Group.

Camus_logo-r (1)Terri Glendon Lanza, the founder of the Ask Terri ERP and manufacturing consultancy, has announced the call-in and PowerPoint meeting, which will begin at 10:30 Central US time. After an hour of talk and questions about the upcoming years for one of the oldest MPE applications -- still running in several hundred companies -- 3000 homesteading advice starts at 11:45.

Steve Suraci, owner of support and systems provider Pivital Solutions, talks first about Resources for Homesteading. Tom Bollenbeck of Ideal Computer follows up, on the same topic, at 12:05.

The user group's traditional and lively Talk Soup puts a signature on the meeting, which is free. An open discussion is scheduled to start at 12:25. You sign up at the Sign Up Genius website.

Up for discussion: MANMAN Modifications, and a possible CAMUS give-away. "Help us outline contents, actions, or a submission list for modifications with financial assistance from CAMUS," Lanza said in her April 2 announcement. "We could talk about the emulator during the open discussion if you want. Everyone is welcome."

 

Details for the webinar phone-in and log-on will be emailed to registrants prior to the meeting. You can send questions to Lanza at tlanza@camus.org, or call her at 630.212.4314.

CAMUS is also prepared to help support a springtime in-person 3000 Social and Stromasys Training event. This is allegedly being held in May, but we're waiting on final confirmation from Stromasys. Once again, the Bay Area's Computer History Museum in Mountain View has been proposed as the setting.

"CAMUS would consider helping sponsor events whenever it may happen, spring or fall," Lanza said. The user group was one of the sponsors the HP3000 Reunion, held at the Museum in September, 2011.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:11 PM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 28, 2013

OpenMPE's afterlife lives on a live server

AfterlifeEleven years ago this spring, OpenMPE was calling itself OpenMPE Inc. and proposing a business around the HP 3000. The organization was just getting on its feet, led by Jon Backus, a consultant and systems manager who ran his own business and took the first steps toward advocacy for the computer HP was cutting from its futures.

The hopes and dreams of a shell-shocked community of 3000 lovers came to the window of OpenMPE. But even in 2002, the group of volunteers' founders knew the holy grail was hardware to replace the boxes HP would stop selling in about 18 months.

A petition, in the form of customers' Letters of Intent, got presented to HP during that year's Interex 3000 Solutions Symposium. 

The document is asking customers if they would support the new organization’s mission to enhance and protect the HP 3000 community’s lifespan, though software development and creation of an emulator that mimics the HP hardware on Intel processors.

And after a decade, the community got its emulator. The software that's now making ripples in the calm pond of 3000 use emerged from hard work at Stromasys, to be sure. But OpenMPE laid the first tracks to demonstrating user interest, as well as an MPE license for emulated 3000s. The HP license is one of the few that were written specifically for the emulator. (Minisoft has announced another.) The other evidence of OpenMPE's work is an HP 3000, hosted at the Support Group in Texas, where it holds software that still matters to MPE managers.

OpenMPE pays a nominal amount to maintain this server inside a hardened datacenter. That's evidence there's still a trace of business going through OpenMPE, although the Support Group volunteers more than a payment can cover. (That's the way volunteers roll, after all. Nobody got paid a dollar for working with OpenMPE, although there was plenty of pay-outs of public scorn.)

But host software on an HP 3000 and you become one of the beacons across the inky landscape of MPE in 2013. One customer wanted a copy of GCC, the Gnu C Compiler that's the bootstrap code for all 3000 open source riches. Mark Klein created an MPE/iX version of GCC to enable printer and file sharing, Internet addressing and advanced networking, perl and so much more on a 3000.

One source for GCC is on Brian Edminster's MPE Open Source server, a repository of free software. But he tipped his hat toward the OpenMPE beacon while answering a question posted on the 3000 newsgroup.

There are several third-party software support providers that could help -- you can find 'em through searching the 3000 newsgroup. And there's also a few of us that are keeping copies available for download on sites of our own.   

I have a site that has it as part of a 'OpenSSH sftp client' install (which also happens to include perl as well). But at the moment, probably the best place to get GCC for MPE/iX is from a site that's a partial copy of the old 'Jazz' server at HP.

The direct URL is: http://www.openmpe.com/jazz/MarkK/gnuframe.htm

As the page notes, GCC was ported to MPE by Mark Klein. The community owes him a debt of gratitude for this, even thought the latest version available isn't quite so current anymore. In spite of that, Mark's work has made it possible to port quite a bit of software to MPE.

Klein volunteered his hours to create the MPE GCC, and more than 30 people volunteered their hours through nine years to make OpenMPE a player during the darkest era of the 3000 -- those springtime months of 2002 when it was so easy to hear the HP user group Interex trumpet the "migrate, and soon" message that HP was hawking. Plenty of sites did, although not nearly as soon as HP hoped. During that era, however, HP got to be instructed about how to curtail business for a business computer community -- hearing all the things it overlooked for the transition, denoted by OpenMPE's volunteers.

March was the time of year when OpenMPE volunteers ran for elections, starting in 2002. Although there are just three directors at the group now, it still has its friends in places like Measurement Specialties, where former director Tracy Johnson manages 3000s and a shadowed OpenMPE server. Or at Applied Technologies, where Edminster supports the ideal of free software that drove OpenMPE during its first year. Or out at the datacenter building in Texas, where the live 3000 still dishes out software that homesteaders find useful, once they search for it.

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

March 26, 2013

Review a plan for modernizing to migration

Many of the most dedicated HP 3000 users have plans. Not just for how to sustain a server HP hasn't built for nearly a decade. Not just for how to retain the tribal knowledge of business systems while preparing for a succession of IT expertise -- the latter in sync with MPE/iX issues. They're making plans to modernize their hardware and extend their software.

At a major healthcare provider in New England, there's an active project to bring an emulator to task, replacing the HP 3000s and their support expenses with inexpensive Intel servers. But the healthcare provider knows the long term probably won't include MPE/iX applications in production. It might be seven years, or 10. But migration -- or a lift and shift of applications -- is certainly down the road.

At another customer site, the prospect of eliminating HP 3000 applications would mean shutting off order entry, fulfillment, sales auditing. It's not impossible, of course. HP's Unix systems have taken over for a major financial module at this manufacturer. That means that somewhere deeper into the corporate calendar, those MPE/iX systems will give way to another OS. When the time is right, says MB Foster's Birket Foster.

March 27 is a Wednesday, so there's a Webinar on offer from Foster's team. Legacy Application Modernization starts at 2PM Eastern Time. Like all the others -- so many over the last three years -- signup is painless, free, and ensures a way to connect with other homesteaders who are eyeing migrations. They might need the latest strategy on what's important to succeed.

At that healthcare provider, the company is still creating development accounts on its HP 3000 N-Class servers. such organizations are often challenged to extend IT investments and modernize their applications, even as the true costs -- like power and cooling, recruiting competent professionals -- to maintaining their environments increase. Foster's webinar looks at the legacy modernization as one way to start the eventual transition.

Couple these challenges with a continual changing technology landscape, and you will find companies are researching alternatives and possibilities, but are uncertain of where to begin the migration process. During this webinar, you will be leveraging MB Foster’s certified migration specialists,  who will help your team to successfully rejuvenate and modernize your legacy application.  

Attendees will learn about best practices, and proven risk mitigation strategies that will allow you to get started and deliver a thought provoking synopsis to your senior management team, to drive the business forward with an eye towards moving and modernizing mission critical applications into the 21st century.

Attending these events, for just 45 minutes or so, is most enlightening because of what the 3000 owners can share. Solving a problem with new ideas is the aim for these advisory sessions.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:20 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (3)

March 25, 2013

Searching for help in all the right places

Today a long-time 3000 site in the candy business called to find out if anybody was available to help with a little contract work. Maybe about two or three years' worth, because that's how long it would take this 3000 stalwart to pull out of their existing 3000 applications.

They've already pulled out of some. Oracle Financials now takes the place of an MPE/iX app, for example. But while Oracle is more popular with the market's experts, the in-house software that it replaced performed better.

The search for 3000 expertise led us to recommend a couple of favorite webpages. The OpenMPE contractor-consultant page has added new consultants in the last few weeks. Over at LinkedIn, the HP 3000 Community is fast approaching 600 members. And while LinkedIn would like the employer prospects such as our candy company -- and its Call Center, Order Entry, Order Fulfillment and Sales Audit apps, all running on N-Class servers -- to pay $295 to list a job opening, it's not needed. You can start a discussion in several places for free about an available job.

Three months ago we dipped our line in the water to attract two dozen applicants with 3000 experience in just under 36 hours, using the redoubtable 3000-L mailing list. We heard from long-time consultants, independent contractors, and even 3000 pros who thought their current company's use of MPE/iX looked a little shaky.

LinkedIn will take on any discussion in the 3000 Community group, regardless of whether it mentions jobs or not. It's hard to describe how many of the nearly 600 are available for work there, but it's not a miniscule percentage.

There's also an HP 3000 Jobs subgroup, which is part of Bill & Dave's Excellent Machine out on LinkedIn. Apply for the Bill and Dave's membership (it's free) and the Jobs subgroup is open to your offering and your seeking, too. Bill and Dave's is another 780 members big, and it's got lots of retired HP 3000 expertise in there. You never know who will want to take on an outside contract, after leaving the good ship HP.

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

February 15, 2013

3000 pro uses open source version control

We've been polling the 3000 community about its choices for development tools, but the range runs wider than QUAD or versions of Notepad. One enterprising veteran has tapped the free, open source toolset git to create a batch transfer system for EDI.

GitThe git solution is one of those software choices that seems to defy the traditional structures for care and feeding of software. Like the Joomla Content Management System, git is supported by a vast range of users, comes free of charge for any Windows, Unix or Linux-based workstation or server, and is used by very large companies as well as untold thousands of smaller ones.

One 3000 IT pro, James Byrne of the trading specialist and freight forwarder Harte & Lyne Ltd., checked in to report how git is helping him manage the development of new modules which connect to newer enterprise environments. The git techology supports Behavior Driven Developments. BDD provides developers and business analysts with shared tools and a shared process to collaborate on software development.

Last year I had to create an EDI batch transfer system from one of our suppliers into our billing system hosted on the HP 3000 and written in PowerHouse. For that project I created a git repository for the HP on our source archives' Linux host, and then transferred over all of our source code, job files, udc and cmd files -- and anything else I believed to be locally developed source -- into the git repository using the HP 3000s HFS layout.

I then checked out the specific directories and files into a working directory on my Linux workstation, wrote the new stuff and edited the old stuff in GVim, and checked everything back into the remote repository. 

Byrne said he then FTP’ed the new stuff onto the HP 3000 and ran it. "If there were any bugs -- and when are there not? -- I edited the source on the workstation, checked it in to the repository, and FTP transferred it from there to the HP 3000 for the next iteration." 

It seeems to me that written out it appears more cumbersome than it actually is. It all went fairly smoothly once most of the gotchas and ‘oops-I didn’t-know-that’ were gradually uncovered and weeded out the the workflow.

One of the major benefits of doing things this way was that everything was built using BDD methodology and the new systems is covered by reproducable tests. Recently a change occured external to our system that broke one of the transfer scripts. We were able to identify the exact problem in our code and fix it with remarkably little effort in an amazingly short time, all because the test suite identified exactly where the exception was occuring and in what way the new behaviour varied from what was expected.

Byrne said the next thing he expects to be writing for, if not actually on, the HP 3000 is a set of Quiz reports to extract the company's 3000 database data into XML files, for transfer and loading into a new billing system. "After that is done," he said, "it seems very likely that then we will bid adieu to our old workhorse."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:38 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 11, 2013

What'll you do if they bring their own?

SmartphoneWhether you approve of outside devices or not, they are in your company. Pretty few places have no smartphone users checking their mail. Many want to tie into company mail systems. That's just the beginning of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) surge. It's said that PCs are pretty much considered dead tech, although that seems severe considering how many laptops you'll see. But the tablets and phones have already assumed their place, even alongside HP 3000s. What happens next is up to you.

HP pushed this message out last week in a small business newsletter article. Management of the BYOD's is their aim, a sound one for a company that's looking for business management opportunities. 

Adopting a BYOD strategy can also lower your initial capital expenditures. To manage and secure a wide array of personally owned and hard-to-track devices, your IT team needs to implement clear policies, procedures and safeguards to protect applications and sensitive business data against malware, device loss and failure.

A Wednesday Webinar this week from MB Foster gives the 3000 community, migrated or homesteading, a chance to ask questions and see strategies localized for managers of these systems.

Birket Foster, CEO, is your host for the Webinar at 2 PM on the 13th. You can register online. (It's a pretty nifty system that lets them call your number when you're ready to take the call. Pops up with a spiffy web app that includes a chat option as well as a way to see the slides while you listen to Birket speak.)

It is not a question of if, but when companies will embrace BYOD with confidence.

In this webinar we will outline and guide you through some of the key considerations related to the implementation of BYOD polices; including

Virtualization: Provide remote access to computing resources.

Walled garden: Contain data within a secure application so that it is segregated from personal data. Allow secure access to email, applications, and data from outside the corporation.

Limited separation: Policies to ensure minimum security controls.

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:01 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 15, 2013

Foster looks into IT crystal ball Wednesday

Crystal-ball 2013Journalists like me are always a sucker for trend stories. People expect a message of the future to emerge from analysis, and IT consumers look farther ahead into the future than most buyers. You're expected to be ready for change at the moment it occurs. I enjoy it when somebody else is doing the trending.

That's why it will be most interesting to see what Birket Foster and his team at MB Foster have to say about IT trends tomorrow, January 16, starting at 2 PM Eastern Time. This is the first Wednesday Webinar of the new year for the company. They're reaching out to predict what will happen in a wide array of 10 sectors:

  1. Virtualizing
  2. Mobile
  3. Big Data
  4. Architecture
  5. Social Media
  6. Analytics
  7. Integration
  8. Video
  9. Security
  10. Sustainability

Registration for the event is free, at the MB Foster website. The webinars usually take less than an hour, including questions and answer sessions.

Foster and his team have been on the HP 3000 scene for 35 years, starting from his work as an independent software representative and consultant in the days before Cognos was named Cognos. That's why he asks

Remember when we used Excel or Lotus spreadsheets to create sophisticated reports?  Whereas today Business Intelligence (BI) and the future trend of analytics and ‘information is power’ are emerging as the norm.

We’ve got our eyes on a list of 10 Information Technology trends that should help anchor your business, present or future, and help you build a broader, more agile enterprise.

Every year we reflect on the IT world and the trends we see that will matter for the coming year. At MB Foster we have the advantage of working with customers in many industries and in different countries; this gives us a unique perspective on upcoming trends in technology.

Even though 2012 was a remarkable year for technology, we’ve got our eyes on a list of 10 Information Technology trends that should help anchor your business, present or future, and help you build a broader, more agile enterprise.

Attending will offer new understanding to tech advancements "that are sure to gain significantly greater mind and market-share over the coming year and by organizations around the globe." Birket loves this stuff and looks forward instinctively. We'll want to watch him connect the dots that lead away from the world of the 3000.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:27 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 09, 2013

Secure the Enterprise: Understand, Pentest

Editor's Note: HP 3000 shops which are on the move will be encountering greater challenges in security. Whether it's a move to Windows, to Unix, or to Linux, all non-3000 environments carry greater risk of breaches. Certified Information Security Professional Steve Hardwick explains the investigation and penetration testing that will be needed to secure any enterprise that's migrating away from the obscure-but-less risky MPE operating environment.

By Steve Hardwick
CISPP, Oxygen Finance 

First of a series

PentestingWhen making a move in the HP 3000 environment, your first order of business is to understand the security solutions that are currently in place. Many organizations conduct a security assessment in response to a specific regulation, such as a compliance initiative. However, using a broader risk assessment approach can result in a much stronger security posture. 

For example, a HIPAA assessment — common in the 3000 healthcare billing environments — may only be directed toward healthcare information. Other users may not be included in that assessment, so would pose as a target for would be hackers. Among the wealth of information regarding how to approach a security assessment — many auditors provide security assessment services — one good free tool is a publication from NIST, a guideline for the Federal government that’s been in place for several years. 

SP800-30 has just undergone a revision and a September 2012 version is now available at the NIST website. This document gives a good framework for a general risk assessment. It can form the basis of assessments for specific compliance projects. There is also SP800-63, a more in-depth overview of password and authentication methodologies and vulnerabilities. 

An important part of risk assessment methodology is testing. The next countermeasure to look at is penetration testing, or pentesting. Penetration testing actively seeks vulnerabilities within a security architecture.

Unfortunately, in most cases this type of testing is limited to testing technical security countermeasures only. One common approach is network scanning. Network scanning involves presenting network data that’s specifically designed to exploit technical vulnerabilities within a network. 

A second type of penetration testing is physical: trying to exploit physical weaknesses within the environment. This type of pentest launches social engineering attacks (trying to trick users into revealing password information through phishing) and searches for physical copies of password information. Pentesting, especially physical, can be a very revealing tool that highlights physical password vulnerabilities.

User training is one countermeasure that is often overlooked. What’s more, this testing can be badly delivered. A lot of user training is dedicated toward telling users what not to do, without explaining the justification for the instruction. This can easily result in users not taking any ownership in the overall security solution. The common response is that the training is viewed as a check-mark on a compliance report, and has little overall value. 

IT managers show users the value of security training by showing the impact of a lax approach to security. All too often, security training is a reactive response rather than a proactive response. This results in a view that the training is punitive. When coupled with a good penetration testing philosophy, users can understand how easy it is to gain unauthorized access to their systems.

Other Physical Countermeasures

It can be fairly simple to steal usernames and passwords of individuals by shoulder-surfing. It may seem that the solution to this is fairly simple: make sure no one can see you type in your credentials. You can show your users certain steps to take that facilitate this. First, positioning the computer screen in a way that prevents this type of attack. 

However, with mobile devices this may not be so straightforward. There are display solutions which limit the off-angle view from the screen, in order to help reduce shoulder surfing. User training can help prevent this type of attack. This is a key area to include in a physical pentest. 

Controlling information as it leaves the corporate environment is also part of physical security. This falls into two areas. Physical transfer of information while in use, as well as decommissioning of computer equipment. 

Physically transferring information is typically employed when using back-up media such as tapes. However, it can also include mobile devices, especially any with magnetic storage. One of the best tools for protection is encryption of data while it is at rest. In the case of back-up media and laptops, this involves encrypting any security data that is on the systems — not just user data. 

A second option is removing the need to physically transport the data, using electronically transferred back-ups. Quite often a laptop can be lost or stolen. Even if the thief's target was not the data it contains, such a theft can surely compromise it and constitute a security breach. 

One caveat regarding encryption: care needs to be taken in storage of encryption keys. The keys should be afforded the same level of protection as a password. 

With regard to decommissioning equipment, prior encryption of the data significantly reduces this exposure. In many regulations, loss of encrypted data may not constitute a breach. The best policy is to have a disposal policy that renders any decommissioned machine or media useless. There are a lot of commercially available solutions that securely overwrite the data, or there are physical destruction methods. 

One of my personal experiences involved receiving a replacement laptop hard drive. When I ran an unformat program, I found out that the previous owner was the CEO. I immediately returned the drive without viewing any of the data. (Incidentally, using an unformat command was not a violation of my acceptable use policy.)

Next time: Technical Countermeasures

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:27 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 04, 2013

3000 Contracting Help Collected and Ready

About three weeks ago we reported on the needs of a HP 3000 site, searching for contracting help to run and maintain HP 3000s systems. Their servers were acknowledged as being at "end of life" by the customer, but to keep them running the company needed help to back up its 3000-savvy staff.

Put plainer, if the IT manager who knows the 3000 retired, or was disabled, this company would need fresh help to keep their 3000s online. We reported that more than two dozen suppliers, both individual consultant-contractors as well as support firms, responded via the 3000 newsgroup -- where we first posted the notice.

We also got resumes, follow-up phone calls, plus a raft of emails at the Newswire asking for direct contact information for that prospective site. The customer didn't want their name used or spread out to these contractors, but we've forwarded the contractor names and resumes to the site. (It's just the way some companies who use the 3000 work -- they keep their operations under wraps. We respect this.)

That 3000 manager says he's contacted some of the leads we helped to gather. But he started off by asking if there was a webpage which listed available contracting suppliers. We've just finished updating such a page up on the OpenMPE News website, openmpe.wordpress.com/hp-3000-consultants. (That's a volunteer effort I began two years ago, sort of a skunkworks information outlet beyond the regular OpenMPE site.) There's a score of professionals and companies up on the OpenMPE news webpage, and no recruiters. It looks like there may be even more to come. Anyone available for contract work can add their information, using the comments section below the listings.

The 3000 Newswire is supported by sponsorship from some of these kinds of vendors. Pivital Solutions, the Support Group Inc., and the MPE Support Group serve 3000 sites, primarily in the support business. They also help make the Newswire possible. I'd be remiss if we didn't draw notice to those companies first.

We've got those contractor-consultants on that OpenMPE page divided into verified (the ones who've responded to us, or on the 3000 newsgroup) and those we'd gathered from the long-ago-created OpenMPE website's consultant page. Among the 21 verified contractors, there's one UK-based and two based in Canada but also available for contracts elsewhere.

There's also 13 companies and independent consultants on that page we haven't verified. If you're reading this and are still in this line of business -- and can help a 3000-using company do its everyday operations -- we invite you to have a look at that webpage and see if you're above the verified line, or below it. Something as simple as a comment below on that page, or this one, will help us move you up into the verified listings.

We can't pretend that this web page is the biggest list of 3000 help, but at least it's among the most recently verified. We also received other email messages that reported a consultant might be interested, or would take on a project only if it was under 30 hours, or they knew a friend who'd like that 3000 site's contact name.

One other resource that comes to mind is the consultants page which Robelle maintains. It's got a built-in connection to using the Robelle tools -- Qedit and Suprtool -- but the skill sets range widely beyond those utilities. About a dozen of those consultants don't appear on the OpenMPE list we've just updated. Some of those dozen specialize in specific applications.

The community that continues to rely on the 3000 this year needs to know its back is covered. One way to do this is to contract with independent resources which supply support -- the kind where if you lose your only 3000 manager or systems administrator, they can take over day-to-day ops.

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

December 17, 2012

Freeware 3000 Emulator gets download link

DownloadLinkAfter a mid-November teaser, Stromasys has made a 2-user, freeware version of its Charon HPA/3000 emulator available for downloading once again. The software that lets an Intel-based Core i7 PC, Linux system or Mac work like an HP 3000 has a new link, live from the Stromasys website in Geneva:

   http://www.stromasys.ch/hp3000_freeware/

The webpage prompts downloaders for their name, phone number and email address, then asks them to affirm two licensing questions: agreeing to enter only a valid HPSUSAN number to identify their virtual HP 3000; and limiting the Freeware to be used only by individuals, for personal, non-commercial use, with no time restriction, or by companies for evaluation purposes only, for up to 60 days following the initial download. 

Stromasys notes that the freeware emulator may not be used in commercial production environments. After submitting simple "yes" answers and contact data, Stromasys emails a download link and a link to a 2-page PDF Read Me file. Each emulator link remains good for only 24 hours. The download file is currently 1 GB, a collection of files which automatically works with VMware's Workstation or Player products on Windows or Linux systems, or using VMware Fusion on the Mac. It includes a 1GB LDEV 1 disc image.

"We've set everything up so that it's as simple as possible," said product manager Paul Taffel. "You don't need to know anything about Linux to actually run the emulator, although of course some knowledge will always be useful. VMware is an amazing product, and allows us to send the whole environment out, completely pre-configured."

The Freeware Edition emulator is a reduced-capability version of the company's commercial A-Class A400 emulator. The performance has been artificially limited to "approximately 2 EPUs, roughly 2/3 that of an HP 3000 A-Class A400 system (when run on a 3.4 GHz CPU) This A202 model is made available as a VMware virtual machine image of a Linux system, in which the HP 3000 emulator has already been installed and configured."

To run the emulator you just need to run the virtual machine using VMware on a Windows, Mac, or Linux-based system. When you start the virtual machine it boots into Linux, and the included HP3000 emulator then starts up automatically.

The CHARON-HPA/3000 emulator functions exactly as a "real" HP 3000 – you can load any HP, third-party, or user software onto the system, and it will run exactly the same as if you were running on HP hardware. It has no expiration date.

The 2-page instruction sheet also gives info on the Freeware Edition hardware requirements and installation process.  After installation, the VMware Linux system places the Read Me file on the desktop.

The download link delivers a tar archive HPA-A202.tar.bz2, a file which when expanded provides the various files that make up the VMware virtual machine The tar archive is compressed using the bzip2 file compressor. it can be decompressed on Windows using the freeware 7-Zip utility, or by using the shareware WinRAR utility, as well as others. Stromasys reports that Mac and Linux users can expand the tar archive from the command line.

Stromasys says it will support the Freeware Edition on a best-effort basis. "However the emulator is supplied with no guarantees to its correct operation or performance. If you have technical questions, please email us at: hp3000.support@stromasys.com."

Hosting requirements for the emulator are a 64-bit Windows, Mac OS or Linux system, driven by Intel x64 architecture (Core 2 Duo, i5, i7, or Xeon) with SSE 4.1 instruction extensions, at least 2 cores, and a clock speed of at least 2 GHz. "We believe (but have not confirmed) that current AMD FX processors (starting in 2011 with Bulldozer codename systems) also implement SSE 4.1," Taffel said.

The Linux Virtual Machine is configured to use up to 3 GB. With VMware's overhead, you should be able to run Charon-HPA/3000 comfortably on Windows systems with 6 GB memory, and possibly less. The decompressed VMware virtual machine takes about 10 GB of disc, including the included LDEV 1 disc image.

When the Freeware Edition is run on a Windows box, you can connect to it using Reflection (or any other emulator) running on the Windows host. I don't know what your options are for terminal emulators that run on Mac OS.

You can also, in theory, connect to the virtual 3000 running inside VMware from other Windows systems on the same network, but it's considerably more complex to configure, and I'm still trying to work out the details.

Taffel added that the emulator's Freeware edition makes use of VMware's ability to define multiple virtual ethernet ports, so downloaders can run it on a qualifying machine with a single ethernet port.

"The regular full-blown Stromasys emulator is not (for performance reasons) officially supported inside VMware Workstation or Player, and Stromasys recommend two physical ports for all production purposes," he said.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:53 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 14, 2012

3000s get healthy admin tool for iPhones

Allegro Consultants has followed through on its promise to bring an iPhone-iPad admin tool to 3000 users. The company's iAdmin software, coupled with a $9.99 a month subscription service, This week got an MPE/iX version for management of HP 3000 servers.

IAdminScreensA free 30-day demo of the service for iAdmin is available for one server. OS Software Support customers of Allegro receive free subscriptions for all of their servers under Allegro support. Others may pay a small monthly charge per server.

The mobile app available is a free download from the Apple App Store, one which requires that back-end subscription based service. The utility for iPhones and iPads provides visibility into the most important datacenter servers. For example, the app identifies CPU loads for systems.

Using the iAdmin graphical interface, a system manager logged in to the service can explore server information as an aid to understanding a 3000's health. Allegro's Steve Cooper notes that "iAdmin displays a server's disk space usage using treemaps, in which files and directories appear as proportionally sized colored boxes allowing users to see at a glance how a system's space is being used."

Earlier releases of iAdmin supported platforms running HP-UX, Solaris, Linux, and Mac OS X.  The app and its service now supports all four operating environments, including MPE/iX.

For more information, screen shots, and instructions on how to view some real-world sample data within iAdmin, managers can visit the iAdmin web site. Questions may be directed to info@allegro.com, or call Cooper at 408-252-2330.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:44 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 10, 2012

HP 3000 contracting experience, all for hire

HelpwantedkeysAn HP 3000 site which wants to go unnamed was interested in a 3000 contractor website. A place that lists available help, I suppose, with information about what experienced MPE pros still do. I posted a simple request without much background information, midday Saturday on the 3000-L mailing list, to try to find someone interested in helping.

Within 48 hours I had the contact names for 22 companies and consultants, all ready to do business with this HP 3000 shop. It's a pretty good-sized system, and the IT manager expected some real effort in finding somebody. After all, HP 3000 expertise is supposed to be hard to find.

"I'll be looking for a couple of experienced HP 3000 MPE resources very soon, and I know they won't be easy to find," he said. "Been there and done that." He didn't want his company name, or his own, used in any report. Some companies are buttoned down like that; we can respect it.

It's a 750Mhz N-Class with four processors that's working at that company. Even their backup system is an N-Class, a 500Mhz 4-way. This recently-installed N-Class 3000 is not going away anytime soon, and about two dozen 3000 citizens would like to come along for the ride. Yes, even in 2012.

Ever since HP announced its "end of life" for the 3000, the warnings about a lack of MPE expertise have hung thick in the air over the last decade. They hang around in this decade, too, seemingly more true with every passing week. It's been a continuing concern that is invoked during migration assessments. Sure, you can make that HP 3000 work longer. "But how much longer can you work?" say the companies which own HP 3000s.

I'd call our seeking-the-guru experience exceptional, but I only posted a three-line request on a weekend afternoon. The response was immediate. Responses continued to trickle in today. It wasn't even posted on the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community site. There are over 550 members there, although plenty of them don't contract. Some have retired from that business.

Not everybody is going to qualify for this work. The prospects range in size from companies booking several millions of dollars in business to individuals who aren't sure how much longer their employer will be using the HP 3000. There's also a range of experience, from before the PA-RISC days, to people whose first 3000 work was on a Series 9x8. That's still more than 15 years on the low end. One prospect said, "Whatever runs on the HP 3000, we know it. Qedit, Quad, Cognos, COBOL, Query, in-depth operations and repairs of hardware, HP987, etc., etc."

Several wanted to know where the work would be performed, and some were modest about their focused skills. Others have called, including one programmer-system manager who'd heard about the opportunity "and wanted to jump on this," because he wanted to leave the non-computer job which he's taken instead of 3000 work. That work was at a site which imposed an end-of-life on its 3000, but not on the veterans who maintained it. I got more than one resume emailed to me. It all has been forwarded to that IT manager who wants to remain out of the public eye.

This community may be on the cusp of an imminent shortage of 3000 contract help. Perhaps it's a little early to be considering a lack of MPE talent while sustaining a 3000 installation, however. Either that, or during this weekend everybody was done holiday shopping, or had finished up their last 2012 engagement.

There's a list of MPE contactors and consultants available at the OpenMPE News website, a free outpost where I'm still the nominal curator. Maybe that's the website where our IT manager should have a look. We'll do our best to include the names which are new to that list, as well as any who have refreshed their interest, in a special section there.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:53 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 26, 2012

Experience a future of corrections, together

On the front page of our latest printed issue, now arriving, we've reported on a snarl that sprang up when Stromasys tried to give away HP 3000s over the Web. Not the actual hardware instances of the 3000, of course. These were the 2-user freeware emulators you will be able to download and install onto commodity computers.

The emulator itself is getting strong reviews for its capability. We'll have a report in full from the first production site soon, once our paper subscribers enjoy it first. However, a file full of HP's add-on subsystem software got slipped into the first zipped package, a mistake that didn't seem to meet Stromasys standards to introduce this virtual 3000's licensing strategy.

The calamity was held in check by the Internet. In the days before the Web, when we had only paper and land line phones and a fax machine, plus the delivery of the mails, this might have been a lengthy crisis. To start, thousands of customers would have had the incorrect bundle, not just the handful who downloaded that too-bundled Stromasys package over 24 hours, before it was withdrawn.

The postal mailboxes would have been full of DAT tapes, or even 9-track reels: the small ones which indie software vendors shipped out. You'd be expected to destroy those tapes and wait on the postman to deliver something a vendor had to re-manufacture, both in the coding sense as well as the writing of bits onto mylar sense. It might have taken weeks.

But now that it's nearly 2013, this kind of snarl becomes a bump in the road. A better version of the emulator freeware is being coded. And it may even be downloadable before our paper issue arrives in all mailboxes. We finished this issue's writing on a Wednesday. Less than seven days later, we were in print. The Personal Freeware version of the emulator will enjoy a uniform delivery schedule, a soon to South Asia as to South Dakota.

Mistakes are a part of creating and learning, but the correction time has been reduced because we're so much better connected.

The curve of connection keeps bending us together. During our last US election the thrum of Twitter was only starting to mount. The newly elected President Tweeted, while his opponent had to yank down a transition website which appeared online, even before all the votes had been counted.

And even though that website was only up for a matter of minutes, it was captured so everyone could connect with the details of the story, re-reported and trumped and harrumphed and spun. All within a few hours.

Where does an HP 3000 stand in such a connected world? I would offer it a position of honor and grace, since it still holds the answers to questions which are asked over the Web. In a little while, new software will let handheld iOS devices monitor the status of HP 3000s. That will mean that the iPad Mini which came to my door this month, earlier than expected, could be carried easily in one hand to track the status of a computer conceived in the late 1960s. We once couldn't hold a console for the 3000, even with two hands, unless we lifted weights at the gym. From 70-plus pounds to 7.9 inches and a matter of grams, we're reducing while we're better connecting.

There must be something we read in our DNA that keeps us linking more closely. I like to believe that it's represented in A Machine with an Old Soul, my prospective title for the book that will flow from the 3000 Memoir Project. Your computer family was created to remember what's important. Connecting that data in every way possible, safely, just improves its powers to bring us together. Like on that special Tuesday evening this month in the US, we experienced our future together, and all at once. Anything that aids the art of community is worth preserving.

-- Ron Seybold

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:41 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 16, 2012

Running a Freeware Emulator: Just Ducky

Editor's Note: I asked several HP 3000 veterans to see how well the installation of the new freeware version of the Charon HPA/3000 emulator worked for them. In yesterday's article, Alan Yeo of ScreenJet led us through a weekend-long journey to get the right VMware and a 2GB Player-ready file onto a server, rather than a desktop. A genuine HP 3000 played a key role. Now with an ISL> prompt on his screen, Yeo plunges forward.

By Alan Yeo
ScreenJet

Second of two parts

Okay, so with no documentation at hand (as of last weekend), let’s try ISL>START NORECOVERY

This starts the MPE launch, I get prompted for date and time which I correct, and it continues with a normal 7.5 launch, right the way through to starting JINETD and logging on as OPERATOR.SYS.

You know what they say. "If it looks like a Duck and quacks like a Duck, it’s probably a Duck," and this thing looks like an HP 3000 and would have probably quacked like one if it could.

As far as I can tell I'm sitting at the console of an HP 3000! I’m running in a Putty Terminal, so I'm not going to be able to do any block mode stuff, but it’s good enough to run a whole load of MPE commands and have a look at the created environment. Yes, it still quacks!

I don't want to try doing too much perched on my stool in front of a rack in the computer room, so can I access this thing from our network? Immediate answer, is No. It is configured with some strange IP address, so I need to reconfigure it for our network. On an HP 3000 easy just go into NMMGR, but that's in block mode and I'm connected via Putty. 

Looking around the screen I see another icon, which turns out to be for xhpterm (a nearly usable HP Terminal Emulator). I launch it, up pops a colon prompt and I logon as Manager Sys. So far so good, let’s try NMMGR; it loads and runs and I do some basic network configuration, validate and exit — and darn I have lost my connection as the IP address has changed. Now what do I do? as I don't seem to have any way to change the IP address that xhpterm is using, and my Putty window has disappeared somewhere.

Let’s try connecting from a real terminal; nope no luck, looks like I have broken this, maybe this demo version only works with its fixed IP? Anyway back to the i7, and decide that I'll shut down the VM and maybe reload. It may have been me but I couldn't find a way to shut down the VM without saving changes, which I didn't really want to do as I had obviously screwed something. So I saved changes. 

I thought maybe I'd have to blow the files away and re-extract the CHARON files again, but I thought, well let’s just launch it again! I did, it went through the boot sequence again, during which I spotted that the new IP I had set had taken effect, and magically when I launched xhpterm again it connected. They must have configured it to use the current IP address of the emulator.

Can I get to it externally via Reflection now? Yes! Okay, now we are "Cooking with Gas." (For those non UK readers you'll have to Google that). File transfer a bunch of stuff, and everything works!

Think I'll finish tidying up in NMMGR, but it won't run from Reflection! Why not? What normally stops NMMGR running? Yep, hptypeahead was turned on, but how — I hadn't done it and it’s not a default. A quick search shows that this box has a whole bunch of SYSTEM UDCs set including:

logon
option logon
setvar hpsysname 'CHARON-DEMO'
setvar tz 'PST8PDT'
if hpjobtype='S'
  setvar hptypeahead true
endif

Now fine and dandy if I had actually been in Pacific Time, and if I had wanted hptypeahead set (I NEVER have hptypeahead set!).

Bit of a cleanup job to get rid of UDCs and replace with a set from one of our HP 3000s. Driving an HP 3000 with someone else's UDCs is rather like walking around in someone else's oversize boots. They are still boots, they keep the water out, but it just feels a bit uncomfortable, and you can't run!

I do a bunch of file transfers and restores, some COBOL and Transact compiles, restored a database, ran some programs, everything worked. And to be honest I didn't expect it not to!

For those of you thinking of trying the emulator, don't waste your time trying to find something in MPE that doesn't work properly, or a program that gives different results, You won't. I know this sounds too good to be true, but it isn't. 

I was fortunate enough to have Mike Marxmeier explain to me a year ago how a hardware emulator works, and basically if you can get the OS to boot, it’s a done deal and anything that runs on that OS hasn't the faintest idea that the hardware has changed. And this is the real MPE we are booting, not an emulated MPE. 

The only thing that is emulated is the hardware, so the only place where there might be problems would be in handling peripherals, or possibly the interpretation of error codes from them. Believe me, way beyond my capabilities or desire to go investigating.

So we now have a virtualised MPE 7.5 HP 3000 running on an Intel i7 server (which we have called "Sharon"). It only permits two concurrent users (hey, this is the free version) and I'd defy most people to logon and know that it wasn't a real HP 3000. 

I don't know what the final hobbyist version of the CHARON-HPA 3000 package will look like, as I was just being used as a guinea pig tester by Ron. However, this 7.5 box came with all the subsystems I needed to do anything I wanted. If the final hobbyist version doesn't, then unless you already have a 7.5 box with an MPE license then it will be virtually useless to you. 

CHARON-HPA 3000 is exclusively 7.5, so you won't be able to take subsystems of your aging 6.0/6.5 9x7/9x8 and use them. My opinion is that for the Hobbyist Licensed version this shouldn't be a problem, as it’s restricted to two users so it’s not like HP would be opening the floodgates on the use of unlicensed subsystems. What’s more, anyone moving from an earlier version of MPE already has a licensed version of them anyway. However, HP is a strange company these days, so I guess we just wait and see what happens.

Commercially, I'm sorry it works, as it will give people more excuses to homestead instead of using ScreenJet's software to migrate. Personally, I like it, as it sticks two fingers up in the air at HP and says "see, if you had wanted to keep all those HP 3000 customers you lost it was technically possible.” And who knows — as ScreenJet's Transact and VPlus migration products also run on MPE, and we now have a new MPE platform, maybe there may be emulator customers interested in advanced versions of Transact or VPlus with all the bugs fixed. And versions that are far more capable than the original HP versions, and are supported!

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:42 PM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 15, 2012

Installing the Emulator: Ahoy, the Disruptor

Editor's Note: As soon as the freeware personal edition of the Stromasys 3000 emulator went live for downloading, I sent the FTP links to several HP 3000 veterans to see how well the installation worked for them. Before we'd follow through on helping to host this freeware, I wanted to see the state of the packaging. Allegro's Gavin Scott also installed it at our request, and his report appears in the forthcoming 3000 NewsWire print issue.

By Alan Yeo
ScreenJet 

I'm not sure why I agreed to Install the Stromasys CHARON-HPA/3000 freeware. It's disruptive technology to the HP 3000 migration business that my company depends upon. However, as I have spent most of my working life using an HP 3000, it would be nice to always have one available after all the old hardware dies or becomes uneconomic to keep alive.

This is almost one of those stories that went nowhere. There seemed so many stupid obstacles to overcome that I almost gave up a few times -- and that was mainly down to lack of documentation that could have saved hours of work. There was also the fact that instead of wanting an emulated HP 3000 on my desktop, I wanted one on a server where a few of us could test drive it.

Hopefully, the lack of documentation last weekend will have been resolved by the time you try the freeware. But here, over today and tomorrow's articles, is the tale of getting my HP 3000 Emulator into the delivery room and smacking its little bottom until the first little colon prompt appeared.

Part 1: Getting things downloaded and installed, starting with a compatible VMware Player and a 2GB Stromasys file.

My only documentation for this was an email from Ron Seybold at the Newswire, with a link to a 2GB download on the Stromasys site.

Hardware requirements:

  • Intel i7/i5 or Xeon CPU with SSE4.1 support; 2 GHz minimum,  3GHz or above recommended.
  • 8 GB RAM minimum.
  • dDsk space - 0.1 TB + space required to keep HP3K disk images.
  • 20 GB is the minimum requirement for the freeware package.
  • Two Ethernet ports.

This is the full 2GB VMware kit, uncompress and open with VMware  Player. (And an FTP link followed)

CHARON HPPA runs under any of three supported 64-bit Linux Desktop  distributions.

Ubuntu 11.10 is our recommended Linux distribution, and is available at no cost.  Ubuntu 11.04 is also supported; versions 12.04 and 12.10 can also be used for testing. Fedora 16 Desktop Edition (64-bit). Fedora is available at no cost. Fedora 15 and 17 are also supported. Red Hat 6.2 (64-bit) is available at www.redhat.com; it is a commercial distribution.

Fortunately we have an Intel i7 server that already has Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop as the host OS. Unfortunately it has Virtualbox installed not VMware, and there were a number of horror stories on the net about running VMware and Virtualbox on the same host. This it turned out was not true, however your mileage may vary.

Downloading delights

So the first problem was getting the 2GB download. I don't have fast broadband, and to be honest I didn't see the "GB" and read it as "MB" (as who the hell downloads 2GB?) so it was a bit of a surprise when I browsed to the ftp location and started the download and was told it was going to take 23 hours! I think I looked at the screen for a few minutes just to let it sink in that it did say 23 hours and wasn't going to change its mind, it didn't and I killed the process.  

The next day with the weekend looming I thought okay, I'll start the download to my PC in the evening and pick it up the following evening (if the connection has managed to stay up that long). This time it told me that it was only going to take just over five hours (don't know what had happened in the intervening day) but five hours meant I was able to check before bed, and as the download completed, plan to do some work on it the following day.

Saturday: The Second Shoot of the season, and me and the dogs were out after Pheasant and Duck, so "Sharon" was going to have to wait. Evening, glass of wine, let’s take a look at where to get this VMware Player thing. Find the VMware site, find the latest version downloads, Oh blast, another 200MB download. Ah I know, I'll logon to the i7 server and download it direct. Strange, if I went to the website from my PC with IE I was offered the downloads. If I browsed there from the i7 with Firefox I got the page, but no downloads offered. Since it is evening I can't be assed to find out why, so resort to downloading the correct Linux version for x86-64 to my PC, and will pick up the following day.

Sunday: Really nice sunny day, unlike the crap we have had for weeks, did I want to spend time working indoors? No, but if I didn't I might never get back to it. Fortunately as it transpired everything took so long and was so broken that all I had to do was wander back and check on progress every hour or so.

Okay I have this 2GB download I need to move from my PC to the i7 server. Easy I'll cut a CD, Windows refuses to copy the file! CD burning software refuses, nay, won't even show me the file to select! That's okay, I'll FTP it. Windows FTP won't even show me the file with a DIR let alone let me PUT it anywhere!

How do I move a 2GB file from my PC to the i7 server if I can't FTP it and can't burn a CD or DVD of it? I could try playing with my PC to see if I could share its drive and do an FTP GET from the i7, but life's too short. I then thought, I wonder what Reflection thinks of the file? Sure enough, it’s happy to show it, maybe it will transfer it? Where to? I need something with PCLink installed.

Ah what about an HP 3000? No problem, Reflection starts transferring the 2GB file (in Binary format Streams) to one of the HP 3000s. It says it’s going to take a fair while even over a 10MB link, but the sun is shining and I can wait.

Becoming a VMware Player

Okay, let’s get this VMware Player set up on the i7 so it's ready and waiting. 200MB is easy to move via a memory stick. Got the file on the i7, follow instruction to right click and open with gedit, it’s a shell script file that it says will do everything for me, including extracting and installing VMware Player if it isn't already installed. Off we go, it has to process the file but shouldn't take long —this is an 3.4Ghz i7 quad core with 8GB RAM. 

Time passes. Time passes. Look at the bottom line of the screen: it says it is processing line 450827 and counting, Time passes, the count is on 600 thousand and something! How many lines could there be in a 200MB file? Time passes, I wander back about 30 minutes later it’s on line one million one hundred thousand and something, and as I'm watching it pops up a box to say its finished, but it has an error with some of the characters, do I want to continue? in which case the result will probably be bad! Or do I want it to try a different character set encoding to translate the characters?  Okay, says I, "have a go." Oh blast, it’s gone back to line one and started processing the whole frigging file again! Yep running just as slow, time to get outside and do some real work and come back in another hour and a half. 

I notice that the Reflection transfer of the 2GB file has finished to the HP 3000, so now I need to get it from there to the i7. No problem: open an FTP connection from the i7 and get the file (binary) leave it running, go get that sunshine.

Pop back a couple of hours later. I have a nice 2GB "Sharon" HPA/3000 file on the i7, and the VMware Player extract has finished! But has the same error! Okay, so on the latest 200MB VMware 5 something is broken and won't install. Give up, or get a long spoon and ask the evil Goggle Empire what it might know. 

Okay, lots of horror stories about getting VMware Player 5 running (or rather not) on Ubuntu 11.10. But quite a few people having success with the older Player 4.5 version. Browse to the links from the i7, and this time I can see the version 4 downloads! Select the latest, slightly smaller, and let the download run. Come back, it’s finished, and this time the file has a .bundle extension, so I click and run and it unpacks and installs like a dream, 

What next? Okay, find the now-installed VMware Player, and run it, up it comes. But what do I do next (remember, I have NO documentation). It must have something to do with that 2GB file that has a GZ2 extension, so let’s try opening it. Right click, get offered an open by something, which I do and then get an "extract" option. Okay, in for a pound, in for a penny, so off we go, everything unpacks clean as a nut.

Okay, there must be something I select from VMware Player. I click open and browse to the directory where everything "Sharon" had unpacked, and it showed me a single file that it obviously thought it could use. I select it and click open, and wait. I get a warning that something is trying to open Ethernet1 in "promiscuous mode" but that it has been denied, and that if I want to read all about it, a web link was supplied. 

At this point I have been playing fast and loose with a bunch of software, so I don't give a damn about something else being a bit promiscuous.  Wow! I get a "Sharon" screen, and then a Putty terminal window opens in a bright green. (I start thinking Putty, that ain't going to do Block Mode) but low and behold in the Putty window I see an HP 3000 going through a recognisable boot sequence ending with an ISL> prompt. 

Tomorrow: It looks like a HP 3000 Duck and quacks like one, too

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:53 PM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 13, 2012

8 decommission tips on a significant 14th

Tomorrow is a very special day in the annals of the life of the HP 3000. A "where were you" afternoon 11 years ago -- but tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, Nov. 14) you can get free advice on how to decommission data that's no longer needed on your HP 3000.

Of course, HP never intended for anyone to leave data behind in that infamous Nov. 14 advisory. Just the rest of the mission-critical enterprise, software, a career full of expertise. At one point, I advised Computerworld that the data in IMAGE databases would be a serious drag on 3000 migration. Not so mcuh, by today. Well, enough of that tomorrow — and not a moment of it until after MB Foster has educated us on 8 Things to Consider when Decommissioning Legacy Data. 

It's a Wednesday webinar starting at 2 PM EST, one you can register for at the MB Foster website.

Decommissioning is the forgotten stage of an application migration project. All too often it is an afterthought – this webinar puts a framework around decommissioning. Experience has shown that there are eight things to consider when decommissioning legacy data

During an interactive presentation -- more than just PowerPoint slides, but one where CEO Birket Foster is certain to ask each attendee how he can help -- the first three things will be examined.

• Evaluation of application inventory

• Identifying data owners and stakeholders and their future needs for legacy data

• Identifying types of information

MB Foster also promises to give attendees a chance to learn of the other five things to consider, what decommissioning is and where to begin, as well as its benefits and cost savings.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:40 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 09, 2012

Emulator freeware users input HPSUSANs

Stromasys has completed the engineering on its Personal Freeware version of the Charon HPA/3000 emulator. The software is available for downloading will be available from the company's FTP servers once issues with subsystem software licensing are resolved. Several bundles are available -- more on that in a moment -- but even more flexibility comes through assigning an HPSUSAN number for the emulator.

According to the Stromasys CEO Ling Chang, a user who's downloaded and installed the freeware can simply type in the HPSUSAN which belonged to a legal HP 3000. No certified USB keys are required, an element that would've made the freeware a $50 item, according to CTO Dr. Robert Boers.

Hurricane-sandy09Chang said that a warning message upon bootup of what it calls the A200 emulator says "The configuration file of this freeware allows you to set the HPSUSAN number. Please know that you should only set the HPSUSAN number to a value that you are legally entitled to." 

Chang added that Stromays would like freeware users to send a donation to the American Red Cross for superstorm Sandy relief.

The packages available include a full 2GB VMware kit, including the A200, which a user can uncompress and open with VMware Player.

A freeware user will also need a 64-bit Linux Desktop distro; the A200 freeware runs under Ubuntu and Fedora (both free) or commercial RedHat 6.2. A smaller set of files, without the VMware Player-ready kit, will also be available.

Since that full VMWare 2GB download might take as many as five hours to retrieve, a shorter path to a bootable download exists on the Stromasys server. Stromasys supplied links for the emulator file itself (5MB) and a compressed disk image which includes MPE/iX (398MB).

We'll keep you updated on when those links will be up and running again.

This story was updated Nov. 10 to reflect the removal of the files from the download addresses which were forwarded by Stromasys.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:38 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (3)

November 02, 2012

Manufacturing Projects with HP Cloud

Gladinet offerHewlett-Packard has been promoting the concept of cloud computing for more than three years, culminating in the opening of its own HP Cloud service this year. This month there's a special offer of 1 TB of extra storage in HP Cloud. It's available by signing up for a Team Account at Gladinet, a provider of cloud storage access solutions. In its simplest configuration, Gladinet is a shared and collaboration workspace like Dropbox for Teams, or Box.

HP Cloud will chip in 1 TB of space with a Gladinet Cloud signup in the deal. There's also a Gladinet Enterprise version that can be modified for more extensive work sharing. But the HP Cloud's got some other possible uses for enterprise customers, perhaps as a means to host the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. Terry Floyd of the Support Group checked in to ask about an update on the Personal HPA/3000. Floyd's company supports manufacturing sites running HP 3000s, as well as some non-3000 operations and prospects.

"I recently joined a free partner program for HP Cloud and can supposedly specify what kind of system I want, and deploy anything I can make fly on it… for just a little bit a month," he said. Floyd's working on calculations about how big HP's little bit of cost will be, "and what happens when I decide to pull everything off of it and stop paying." Cloud-based hosting poses this "take-my-stuff-back" issue, one which is new to the 3000 IT manager who's hosted everything locally up to now.

This morning Floyd reported that "I have not activated my HP Cloud space yet. It would take a phone call to them to get the configuration I want – it wasn’t among their standard offerings." One thing that's held Floyd at bay about HP Cloud is the sophistication of the Salesforce cloud offering. "HP Cloud is probably a long ways behind what Salesforce is doing," he said after attending the recent Dreamforce '12 conference.

Salesforce doesn't need the lift of attraction which HP Cloud requires at the moment. HP's Cloud opened for business just this spring, while the Force products have been doing remote hosting of app services for years. But through Nov. 24, the Gladinet trial allows you to access an extra 1 TB of HP Cloud Object Storage as if it were a local drive. HP says that "This makes it extremely easy to manage and share documents, images and videos."

The Team Edition of Gladinet is free for the first 30 days with a minimum of three users per account. Then it's $9.99/user/month. Extra fees are billed for any HP Cloud Object Storage exceeding 1 TB.

Coming from the Force environment, however, Floyd sees a lot more maturity. It's an aspect that will come into play when manufacturing enterprises consider a new ERP platform. Those might not be 3000 sites, but they're pretty likely to be modest-sized companies -- which has often been the profile of the 3000 customer.

The only purpose I had in mind for HP Cloud was the Stromasys Emulator and that’s just a whim. I’m crazy about Salesforce and how they provide security and assurance of zero data loss and very little (almost 0) downtime. At Dreamforce 12 in September, I learned a lot about the internals and cannot believe the depth of their services.

Making a business out of cloud offerings (including the Kenandy Social ERP) looks like it's still in the early days. "I assume it will be the way things are done in the future, therefore I’m trying the learn as much as possible. I learn best by doing something real, so I’ll learn a lot doing the Stromasys freeware emulator," Floyd said.

But cloud computing on such small scales is still competing with low-cost local hardware. For example, instead of using HP Cloud for the emulator, Floyd said, "I just bought a refurbishes HP Elitebook 8470w with 8GB of RAM on an i7 with 500GB of disc. It should do nicely for Personal HPA/3000."

Even the older 3000 iron -- which the HPA/3000 freeware will emulate -- offers a cheap alternative to the HP Cloud. "I could potentially move my EDI business (which is now done on the Series 928 in our datacenter) to Stromasys in the cloud someday," Floyd said. "But that 928 is very reliable, so there’s no hurry that I can come up with."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:54 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 25, 2012

CAMUS meeting to examine cloud ERPs

SocialElectionNovember 7 is more than just the day after the US 2012 elections. It's also the morning that the CAMUS user group is holding a call-in webinar to explore cloud-based ERP solutions to replace hosted software. Some of those hosts might be HP 3000s, if representatives from INFOR and Kenandy score any votes.

The meeting which starts at 9:30 PST (12:30 EST) will be open to anybody who registers at a page at Signup Genius. Over the following two and a half hours, the founders as well as the current holders of ASK technology will show off technology combos which want to eliminate the need to manage servers at manufacturing locations.

Warren Smith of INFOR will demonstrate SyteLine, a cloud-based application offered by the company which now holds the licenses for MANMAN, among several other ERP systems. Rob Elliot of Kenandy will take the Kenandy Social ERP for a spin via the web. Kenandy uses designs and systems architecture from ASK founder Sandy Kurtzig, who first developed MANMAN in the 1970s for an appreciative 3000 customer base rolling its own MRP solutions.

These software solutions rely on faith in offsite servers and secure bandwidth, elements which have become more proven in the years since Salesforce.com became a business standard. While INFOR draws itself into the cloud world by way of its installed MANMAN base, Social ERP relies on the force.com cloud reputation. Both companies claim to be able to eliminate local IT resource requirements, or at least the largest ones which demand veteran pros.

But Social ERP isn't always aimed at 3000 sites using MANMAN, at least not this year. Terry Floyd of the Support Group, which serves MANMAN customers on 3000s, has worked closely with Kenandy for more than a year by now. His target is the small manufacturing company that needs a better ERP solution and knows nothing of MANMAN.

"We don’t intend to convert anyone from MANMAN to Kenandy within the next year," Floyd told us in January.  "We are going for new customers who never heard of MANMAN, startups and tiny manufacturing companies." Tiny is a word that fits well with Social ERP, since it can erase the capital costs and staff resources of the classic local-host system. The Support Group has been working on add-ons and extensions to the Kenandy apps.

As for SyteLine, its a new branding of the INFOR10 ERP Business software, extended to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. One of hte SyteLine options includes application managed services. The SyteLine configuration model expands choices in purchasing, deployment and managing of ERP.  "With SaaS, manufacturers gain access to the same functionality available in on-premises software, with the flexibility of on-demand access from Infor," according to an Infor webpage on the product.

CAMUS meetings always include a "Talk Soup" segment where users can chat about implementation issues, workarounds and IT plans. Talk Soup starts at noon PST, after the Kenandy Social ERP demo.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:42 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 07, 2012

The First HP 3000 You Can Download

Print-ExclusiveWe are on the cusp of a milestone here, one that's bigger than the impending start of our 18th year of publication. As part of our desire to help the 3000 community, we hope to be sending out HP 3000s. Virtually, of course. There's never been HP iron or MPE code here in our offices.

We've had an offer to distribute the freeware copies of a new Personal-sized Charon HPA/3000 emulator built by Stromasys. We haven't been shy about the prospects for this product, one that has no competition. One of the experts with the longest tenure in the marketplace, Alan Yeo of ScreenJet, said at this time last year that the emulator has the potential to be a game-changer. It's already taken on the role of a governor — as in the part of an engine which keeps a limit on how fast an auto will barrel forward.

WideWorldHead185When we last checked in with Yeo, he was saying that the migration business had slowed to almost a trickle in the first half of this year. Six months earlier, he believed that emulator would be giving companies a reason to reschedule their migration plans. A tough economy would be another reason, but having a vision of a virtual 3000, to replace aging iron, would be the newer and more novel element in the postponements.

We've never served up anything off of our web hosts besides video, audio, PDF files and contents of web pages. So being an outlet for these freeware downloads is a new mission for me to manage. I ask your patience if there's a beta period of the downloading process.

If we accomplish what we hope, we will just be helping the community get a taste of a low-powered version of a virtual 3000, something that might replace HP's hardware with anything built using an Intel chip of i7 or greater horsepower. Think a modern laptop and you get the idea of the typical host for freeware 3000s.

The very idea that you'd combine those two elements in a single solution — freeware to make an HP 3000 — shows how far the Web has carried us all to this new brink of virtualization. During the 18 years we've been in business, only one other company ever asked the NewsWire to deliver anything other than information and advice and entertainment.

The last time we got asked the Web was pretty brand-new, and that software had competition which we could not overlook. It's the unique nature of HPA/3000 that makes it possible to say yes this time. That, and how it could change the future for preserving an investment in MPE computing. That said, older iron will sell well. There are surprising values for the physical devices called HP 3000s.

Like the vapors of the Web, it's the substantial, invisible magic of MPE that's going to define owning an HP 3000 in the years to come. I'm already gathering stories for the 3000 Memoir Project, and plenty of them focus on the software that has made the computer great enough to keep running "just a few years longer." Year after year, that's what we hear.

So watch this space for details on how to download your first free HP 3000 off the Web.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:53 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 15, 2012

MB Foster webinar shows best practices on legacy modernization, mitigating risks

Starting today at 2PM US Eastern (11AM Pacific) MB Foster offers another in its series of 45-minute webinars about IT strategies. The latest interactive broadcast (Birket Foster asks for questions throughout) is on legacy modernization. These are skills that can serve both homesteading and migration missions. Sometimes, this kind of modernization serves homesteading, and then modernization.

At times our community members mistake this era -- the second decade after HP's exit announcement -- as a static period. Good management doesn't see it that way. An IT environment should be evolving. Best practices on modernization can deliver ideas as well as field reports. From the MB Foster teaser about the webinar:

Organizations are often challenged to extend IT investments by modernizing legacy applications to both avoid the costs of maintaining legacy environments, and increase the supportability and usability of the applications. Migrations involve high-level planning, low-level detail study and budgets.

Attendees will learn about best practices and proven risk mitigation strategies that will allow you to get started and deliver a thought provoking synopsis to your senior management team.

You register online at the MB Foster website, a painless minute or two. You'll get an email with login directions. We'll follow up with a summary, but the value of being able to ask questions is only available if you log in this afternoon.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:31 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 13, 2012

Securely Migrating to the Cloud

HP has pushed hard to entice the enterprise to make the cloud a new home for business data. While evaluating the pros and cons of making a cost-saving move from classic HP 3000 datacenters to the cloud, this guide of what's to be managed will help. Our security analyst Steve Hardwick looks closer at the challenges a manager must resolve if their onsite storage and systems can be replaced with remote infrastructure.

By Steve Hardwick, CISSP
Oxygen Finance

CloudracksThere has been a lot of buzz around cloud-based solutions. There is a lot to be said for moving to this architecture, especially the lower operating costs. However, a lot of the press has been sourced by suppliers such as HP -- the same people who provide the cloud solutions. It is no surprise that the picture they paint is very rosy. Fortunately, if done well, a cloud transition can be a very successful endeavor. But what are some of the challenges in embarking on this adventure? Let me give you some background on the type of security challenges you are going to face. I will also offer a set of free resources that are invaluable in tackling this migration.

First of all, a little security 101. In the security world there is a very common acronym, CIA. It is not what you may think. It stands for Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. Confidentiality is the part of security that is concerned with ensuring that only authorized users can view or copy information. This is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think about security. Integrity is concerned with the accuracy of the data, only authorized users can create and change information. Finally Availability addresses the ability of authorized uses to perform these actions upon the information.

A few examples help illustrate these concepts. Confidentiality: a password protected encrypted file. Only the user with the password can access the data. Integrity: a password protected public web side. Although many people can view the data, only authorized users can create or modify it. Availability: data is backed up to a remote storage service. If there is a drive failure, an authorized user or IT manager can still get access to data by getting a copy of the backup.

Like any journey it is important to understand your point of origin. Let's take a look at some of the inherent security controls in an on-premise solution which is already in place.

First of all there are some physical controls that are normally in place that can be easily overlooked. For example, there is a strong physical relationship between a laptop and the user. Forgetting remote access for a moment, a manager attains a measure of security from the simple fact that the authorized user must be physically present to access the machine. There are also MAC address logs which can track who accesses the network and when. 

Secondly, if I am not using my laptop I can physically secure it when not in use and provide physical measures, such as a locked filing cabinet, to further secure the data. Finally, if I want to help prevent unauthorized users from changing the data I can put users in a special area in my facility, HR or accounting for example. The physical separation provides a way of preventing unauthorized access.

Next, there is the capability to monitor who can access the data. This can either by done physically or technically. Physically involves putting in place a badging system to prevent unauthorized access to the facility. Logs are kept of who is allowed in and the failed attempts are recorded. Plus alarms can be added to signal unauthorized entry.

On a technical level, usernames and passwords are a baseline methodology for controlling virtual access to data. Again, logs are kept on authorized and failed access attempts. Logging analysis tools can be used to generate alarms based on failed attempts. To augment the logging systems, you can add intrusion controls to the mix. These solutions can detect intruders as they attempt to gain access and, in many cases, help prevent it.

Finally there is the availability of information. This varies, from the ability to restore an individual file to a user to restoring complete back-ups of the corporate email system. One of the main challenges is the speed at which data can be restored. End users expect data to be recovered in minutes to a couple of hours.

There is also a hidden challenge: How to ensure that the back-up copies are not compromised. In 2011 Science Applications International Corp. said backup computer tapes containing sensitive health information of 4.9 million Military Health Care System TRICARE beneficiaries treated in the San Antonio, Texas, area since 1992 were stolen from an employee's car Sept. 14. This is just one, albeit major, example of what can happen if backup data is not secured physically and encrypted.

In summary, an on-premise solution is a mix of different controls that help preserve confidentiality, integrity and availability. It is very important to take an inventory of these controls prior to beginning any migration to the cloud, for two reasons.

One, and somewhat obviously, the cloud solution must provide the same if not better security controls as the current system. Especially if the organization has to meet regulatory compliance requirements. Two, many controls that are currently in place may be overlooked – how to replace physical security for example. A risk assessment to catalog the security controls is a critical starting point in migrating to the cloud.

If you do not already have a risk assessment methodology -- or even if you do -- the National Institute of Standard and Technology NIST provides a free risk assessment guide “SP800 – 30 Risk Management Guide for Information Technology Systems” (you can download the PDF here). NIST provides these guides as a baseline for federal organizations to build their security programs. Using this document and running through an assessment will give you an idea of what you already have in place and what a cloud based solution will need to meet.

Looking at some these security controls, what sort of challenges occur in the cloud world? Often overlooked is the lack of physical security controls that mimic the ones in the on-premise solution. For example, my data in no longer in my control when not in use. I can't lock my piece of the cloud in my filing cabinet when I go home at night. Cloud solutions must be able to mimic the physical separation of the information by putting in place other types of controls, in this case it's typically encryption.

Similarly, with monitoring and alarms, how do my IT team get access to the logging information that they need to monitor the cloud based system? I also need to know what other systems are in place to detect and prevent unauthorized access to the data, plus let the IT staff know when there has been a security breach.

Finally there is the case of availability. In the cloud world this is handled with Service Level Agreements. Your agreement must specify how users will be assured that their data will be made available when they need it. Suddenly instead of dealing with backup solutions, this is now a contractual agreement and it needs a different skill set.

Fortunately there is one way to start getting ahead of the curve. NIST has a couple of other very useful SP800 series publications that are worth mentioning. Since cloud computing is a relatively new and fact changing technology, it is important to understand the concepts. At its website, csrc.nist.gov/publications, you'' find NIST SP800-145 “The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing.” It gives a good overview of the basic concepts of cloud computing in a few pages (3-4). If you are just getting started, then this is a great primer.

Next is its companion NIST SP800-144 “Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing” which goes into great details on how to put together a plan on addressing cloud security needs. It also outlines some of the security controls that should be in place and will be a complement to the assessment exercise I mentioned earlier. 

In addition to NIST there is one other organization that is worth a mention. Formed in 2009, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing. The organization produces a wealth of free information on the topic of cloud computing security. One CSA initiative is a GRC stack with a set of tools for Governance, Risk Management and Compliance. There are several components in the stack -- let's talk about two of them will be highlighted.

There are several training presentation on the site that give a good overview of the new security challenges that cloud computing brings. For example the original training documentation shows how the security requirements are changed in the cloud  Then there is the CSA Cloud Controls Matrix CCM. This tool provides a spreadsheet that maps the CSA security control definitions to several different regulatory requirements (PCI, SOX, GLBA FISMA and so on.) It gives a quick and easy way to generate a checklist of the current controls in your on-premise environment, then map them to a set of requirements for the cloud provider. Furthermore, if you have some other regulatory requirements, or your own internal set, you can easily add these to the mapping.

NIST and CSA have provided a set of tested and freely available tools to help any IT organization in their journey to the cloud world. CSA also has a wealth of information that can help to train IT professionals and get them onto a cloud based way of thinking. In both cases they are independent bodies so they are not trying to highlight a specific solution. Consider adding these organizations in your list of cloud security references.

Moving to the cloud brings with it a new set of security challenges. It is now a world of hack once and expose everywhere. Knowing where you came from is critical to understanding the impact of these challenges as you move forward. 

Steve Hardwick manages security for pre-payments provider Oxygen Financial, a Euro-founded company now extending its services to North American IT operations.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:15 AM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2012

Finding HP's MPE Patches and Papers

FrescheFaceSpeedware has become Fresche Legacy this year, but the vendor's still got its storehouse of HP 3000 documents, white papers and even HP patches available online. You just have to poke directly at the pages you want to hit.

When it became Fresche in the spring, the company put a new face on its website. For awhile it was tough to hop into any HP 3000 page from those Speedware days. But a direct link opens the path to documents which are not found many other places on the Web. HP-authored MPE whitepapers, for example.

The company announced this summer that it's just booked five outsourcing agreements with North American companies worth more than $10 million. These are application outsource contracts -- the sort of business resource which Fresche Legacy continues to offer in the 3000 marketplace.

However, there's still a good deal of resource online from the many years when Speedware was an HP Platinum migration partner, as well as a supplier of migration software such as AMXW. That software's still available today. The HP 3000 paper and patch site has a front door of www.speedware.com/HPe3000_resources

There's some surprising advice online that seems to retain its value for the 3000 homesteader, too. This kind of customer might be the one holding off on migrations until the budgeting is better. It's been a tough year for the economy in North America, and even tougher in Europe. One way to stretch the 3000's capabilities might be through open source software. That speedware.com address has a Powerpoint presentation on creating ports for open source products to MPE/iX. (Even more information on using existing open source tools on the 3000, right down to Unix fundamentals like tar, is at the mpe-opensource.org website run by Applied Technologies.)

Such HP-written papers used to be hosted on HP's Jazz server, pulled offline in 2008 when the MPE labs closed down. HP once hosted patches online, too -- including some that made it into beta test, but not general release. You can grab these on the speedware.com pages, too. 

There's a lengthy EULA agreement that pops up automatically when you drive into the website, something HP's lawyers insisted upon before licensing this content to third party partners such as Client Systems. We clocked it at about 40 pages when we hit the "Agree" button more than three years ago. HP's Jazz never had such a requirement while its contents were hosted inside Hewlett-Packard.

In a way, HP's outsourced these paper and patches by putting them in the hands of Fresche and Client Systems. Outsourcing can be a good arrangement when an entity, either vendor or client, wants to move on to other opportunities -- like Fresche president Andy Kulakowski said about his new North American outsourcing deals. 

These new outsourcing contracts further strengthen our legacy management position and further support our vision to make our customers’ businesses run better by making their IT run better. Organizations that outsource, or are considering outsourcing application management functions, are a perfect fit for our complete service offering.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:30 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 06, 2012

What You Need to Do and Check for SLTs

At a recent visit to a customer's shop, VEsoft's Vladimir Volokh spread the word about System Load Tapes. The SLTs are a crucial component to making serious backups of HP 3000s. Vladimir saw a commonplace habit at the shop: Skipping the reading of the advice they'd received.

"I don't know exactly what to do about my SLT," the manager told him. "HP built my first one using a CD. Do I need that CD?"

His answer was no, because HP was only using the most stable media to build that 3000's first SLT. But Vladimir had a question in reply. Do you read the NewsWire? "Yes, I get it in my email, and my mailbox," she said. But like other tech resources, ours hadn't been consulted to advise on such procedures, even though we'd run an article about 10 days ago covering CSLTs. That tape's rules are the same as for SLTs. Create one each time something changes in your configuration for your 3000.

Other managers figure they'd better be creating an SLT with every backup. Not needed, but there's one step that gets skipped in the process.

I always say, "Do and Check," Vladimir reports. The checking of your SLT for an error-free tape can be done with the 3000's included utilities. The venerable TELESUP account, which HP deployed to help its support engineers, has CHECKSLT to run and do the checking.

There's also the VSTORE command of MPE/iX to employ in 3000 checking. If your MPE references come from Google searches instead of reading your NewsWires, you might find it a bit harder to locate HP's documentation for VSTORE. You won't find what you'd expect in a 7.5 manual. HP introduced VSTORE in MPE/iX 5.0, so that edition of the manual is where its details reside for your illumination.

It's also standard practice to include VSTORE in every backup job's command process.

There's another kind of manager wouldn't be doing SLTs. That's the one who knows how, but doesn't do the maintenance. You can't make this kind of administrator do their job, not any more than you can make a subscriber read an article. There's lots to be gained by learning skills that keep that 3000 stable and available, even in the event of a disk crash. Management might not respect the 3000's ability to take on new developments. But a company always respects the 3000's reliability.

CHECKSLT, and care and feeding of SLTs, are well-covered in a NewsWire column written by John Burke almost 13 years ago. His advice still holds today.

HP’s documentation tells us we need to have a current SLT. And that it can be created using the TAPE command within SYSGEN. If you look hard enough you will also find the warning that the CSLT you may have created when doing an update or manage patch is not adequate. That is about it for SLT recommendations.

Is this recommendation correct? Well, in the sense that it is necessary to have an SLT created by the TAPE command, then, yes, it is correct. You can re-install your system in the event you lose a drive in the system volume set using this SLT and appropriate other backups. But is this recommendation complete? I think not.

As has been proven countless times, the people who write manuals (and not just at HP) are not out in the real world. They are not running shops where if you get a six-hour maintenance window once a month you consider yourself lucky. They are not running shops where you have to have procedures that can be understood and followed by someone with only basic training in system operation. They are not running shops where cell phones go off like July 4th fireworks as soon as anything unusual happens.

You can find HP's VSTORE page in that 5.0 command manual online, just like the NewsWire's advice. Vladimir, you find him in your office, if he's traveling your way. But managers also find that he recommends our advice -- perhaps because we first get the instructions to do it, and then have our reports checked. Do and Check are words to live by, not just for managing 3000s.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:40 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 30, 2012

Security patches still floating HP-UX cloud

Hp_enterprise-cloud-servicesMigrating from the HP 3000 can be an act of faith. Once a vendor has closed down a business platform, the alternatives might look less certain to survive -- at least until a manager can survey the security of a replacement host. HP genuinely dimmed the lights on its MPE/iX activity when it stopped creating security patches. Windows XP is still getting these, but Microsoft has said they'll stop patching in 2017.

Apple's starting to join the previous-platform shutdown crew. Its new OS Mountain Lion is blasting across the downloading bandwidth -- the vendor said more than 3 million copies went out in the first four days of release. With every copy of Mountain Lion that's downloaded, or shipped out on new Macs, the older platform of Snow Leopard loses a step in Apple's march. Snow Leopard shipped out in 2009. Some managers are on watch, waiting to see when that leopard will lose its security spots.

HP continues to support two earlier releases of HP-UX with security patches. Two separate breaches were repaired last week. One vulnerability could be exploited remotely to create a Denial of Service (SSRT100878 rev.2). Another patch (SSRT100824 rev.3) addressed vulnerabilities which "could be exploited remotely to execute arbitrary code or elevate privileges." Samba and BIND opened the gates to these hacks. Both have been supported in MPE/iX, but it's been many years since Samaba or BIND had any access to a security patch on the 3000.

The Mac's OS is built out of the girders of such open-sourced, Unix-based tools and software. Now there's a rising current of change flowing through the Apple community around the two latest releases of the OS. Lion and Mountain Lion change so many things that older, more experienced Mac managers find themselves learning new interfaces and administration in a forced march -- all because Apple sees profit in making Macs behave like mobile phones and tablets.

Whatever's been learned about managing a Mac is now being depreciated with each new OS release. That kind of change is only the early stages of what a 3000 manager experienced when HP stopped creating MPE/iX or patching it for security. The Unix customers of Apple (Mac OS managers) and HP have one thing in common: continuous re-learning and patching of their environments. This will stretch an IT pro's skill sets. It can also stretch out a workday into work nights and weekends. Enterprise customers must always hope that their vendor doesn't get too enterprising about the profits from churn. Apple seems to be doubling down on a strategy that churns up security issues: cloud computing.

HP added this level of capability to MPE once during the history of the OS, when it grafted a Posix interface onto MPE/XL in 1992 to create MPE/iX. The Posix namespace provided instant familiarity to adminstrators who knew Unix admin commands and programs. But MPE/iX didn't stop behaving like administrators expected who wanted nothing to do with Posix. They didn't have to trick the 3000 into the polished and proven processes that established reliability and security.

Apple's iCloud is the default file storage location in that 3-million download OS version. The vendor really doesn't believe in things like a desktop for file management anymore. Let the cloud take care of finding things and keeping them up to date. In other words, let Apple's server farm security maintain the sanctity of personal and professional data.

This turn of events was triggered by the sudden fortunes of Apple's computing business. Mobile devices make up more than 75 percent of the largest capitalized company in the world today. With so many ways to carry a computer out of the office, Apple figures a cloud is the only chance to keep documents and personal data up to date. When a business takes off enough to double a stock price, a company will pivot to capture the opportunity.

The situation illustrates the challenges in staying on a fast track of technology. Apple's "doubling-down" on iCloud, according to its CEO. HP is making a bid for this kind of computing, too, but not by pushing all the chips to the center of its enteprise table. Cloudsystem is good for some businesses, but the top reason that 3000 managers cite for avoiding it: security concerns. HP's got a Enterprise Cloud Services-Continuity version that the vendor says "is part of what makes this an 'enterprise' cloud service."

Some of the security freature include Network Intrusion Detection and Prevention (NIDS/NIPS), firewall and VPN monitoring and management, two-factor authenticated access to privileged user accounts, operating system hardening, physical datacenter security (access by key card or biometric palm scanning, video surveillance, and on-site security personnel) and SIEM monitoring.

That last bit of ackronymn soup stands for Security Information and Event Monitoring, real-time analysis of security alerts generated by networks.

Quite a bit like the MPE/iX customers of just five years ago, us managers of Snow Leopard systems haven't got the latest iCloud, update-everywhere powers, the place where we can abandon our regard for file system skills. We are still getting security patches like the ones that HP-UX admins processed last week through HP-UX Software Assistant.

Every vendor will judge when securing older releases -- like Snow Leopard, MPE/iX or HP-UX B.11.11 -- stops making business sense. Trying to estimate that date is as tough as guessing the thoughts behind the inscrutable face of any cat, either leopard or lion. But knowing that end-of-security deadline is on its way is easy to predict. Every OS gets such a day to test the faith of its customers. And the changes a manager must adopt to keep pace with their OS could be so profound that staying current feels like adopting a new set of administration skills.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:52 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)