February 14, 2012
String some perls on a day for love
The HP 3000 has a healthy range of open source tools in its ecosystem. One of the best ways to begin looking at open source software opportunity is to visit the MPE Open Source website operated by Applied Technologies. If you're keeping a 3000 in vital service during the post-HP era, you might find perl a useful tool for interfacing with data via web access.
The 3000 community has chronicled and documented the use of this programming language, with the advice coming from some of the best pedigreed sources. Allegro Consultants has a tar-ball of the compiler available for download from Allegro's website. (You'll find many other useful papers and tools at that Allegro Papers and Books webpage, too.)
Bob Green of Robelle wrote a great primer on the use of perl in the MPE/iX environment. We were fortunate to be the first to publish Bob's paper, run in the 3000 NewsWire when Robelle Tech made a long-running column on our paper pages.
Although you might be dreaming up something to bring to your sweetie tonight, you could grab a little love for your 3000, too. Cast a string of perls starting with the downloads and advice. One of HP's best and brightest -- well, a former HP wizard -- has a detailed slide set on perl, too.The official perl.org website has great instructions on Perl for MPE/iX installation and an update on the last revision to the language for the 3000. First ported by Ken Hirsch in 2000, the language was brought to the 5.9.3 release in 2006.
An extensive PowerPoint presentation on perl by the legendary porter Mark Bixby will deliver detailed insights on how to introduce perl to your programming mix. Bixby, who left HP to work for the 3000 software vendor QSS, brings the spirit of open source advocacy to his advice on how to use this foundational web tool.
As an example, Bixby notes that "it's now possible to write MPE applications that look like web browsers, to perform simple HTTP GET requests, or even complicated HTTP POST requests to fill out remote web forms." It's no box of Godiva, or even the classic blue box from Tiffany's, but perl might be something you love to use, to show that 3000 isn't a tired old minicomputer -- just a great sweetheart of a partner in your mission-critical work.
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February 09, 2012
Third Party Futures Revisited, Maintained
Early this morning I went on a search for modules of HP's Maintenance Management/3000 software, known as MM/3000. A new member of the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community posted his user profile on that group (425 members and counting), and Randy Thon identified his shop as an MM/MNT user. The software that's running at his HP 3000 site was first installed in 1988. Thon explained that the program suite is still functional and efficient today.
The HP 3000 is still the core of our application. We're running on a Series 969-420 and rebooted two months ago -- we last rebooted five years ago. So far the application has been very robust, averaging production application changes weekly, allowing us to change at the speed of thought to accomodate changes in the manufacturing workplace and reductions in workforce. One of the main reasons we are still on this application and platform is that it is cost effective, solid and all development and management of the system is within the Maintenance Department.
That's the maintenance department of the Cessna Aircraft Company, the world's largest manufacturer (by aircraft sold) of general aviation airplanes. Not exactly a small enterprise, and there's clearly no software problem in Cessna's maintenance group. (Thon, by the way, is looking for fellow users of MM/3000. You can link in to him via the HP 3000 Community.)
The ease of integration which lets Cessna "change at the speed of thought" is enhanced by a third-party piece of software that improves MM/3000. Products like the eXegeSys eXegete client, a front end for the MM/3000 software, have made using 3000s to drive a big company a safe long-term investment. It's been that way for more than 30 years in your market, but there was a time when any software sold outside of HP was a budding enterprise. I located a link to illuminate this pedigree at the Adager website, where long-term 3000 resources have always had a generous harbor.
On the Adager site you can read "The Future of Third-Party Vendors In the HP3000 User Market." The paper written by Eugene Volokh of VEsoft at the end of 1983 does some in-house forecasting. Third parties are going to do well in the world of 3000 owners, Eugene figured, because the system vendor would always be missing out on improvements, innovation, or competitive pricing on software. This might seem like a no-duh theory now. But in the world of 1983, independent providers of computer solutions were anything but a slam-dunk in the world of enterprise IT.
Volokh, Adager and Robelle are among the group of software solution "Improvers" that Eugene cited in his historic paper. In essence, after 3-4 years of success from these companies the case was pretty well proven that a solid product like MPEX, Adager, Qedit or Suprtool was going to win a lot of business away from the systems makers.
But the point that you might overlook in the paper is that these three companies continue to make long-term investments in 3000s possible and profitable, even after three decades. Eugene was just taking note of a software trend that remains true today: innovation from outside the system creator builds a lifelong community of support.
In a recent talk with Birket Foster, whose MB Foster Associates celebrates 35 years of continued business this year, he reminded me of where the community turned for new ideas in the early 1980s. The third-party vendors such as Foster, Adager, VEsoft and Robelle turned out papers, published books and newsletters, and spoke at in-person user group meetings. "There was no Internet back then, so you had to meet with somebody or talk to them to get solutions," Foster said.
A user community that grew up before the Internet has stronger links to innovation and assistance than groups that grew in the 1990s (Windows) and later (Linux), member for member. I like to think that every member of your Community carries several times more power and prowess than those from younger communities. As we've grown older things have changed a lot for the prospect of independent software and service providers. Yes, HP cleared out of your market. Its departure is even making companies like Cessna revisit how long they'll use the 3000 hardware no longer built by Hewlett-Packard. (There's a virtualization opportunity to replace HP's gear in the Stromasys product.) But HP's exit has also opened up the field for those Innovators and Improvers. Just look at how the world's change reveals itself in Eugene's survey of manager purchasing habits. One retired relic of that market: The Single-Vendor Shop.
Many HP customers have an almost blind loyalty to HP. In my years as an independent vendor, too often have I heard "sorry, we don't buy third-party products." This attitude, although sometimes justified by the desire to have a more easily supportable system, is usually quite incorrect because it deprives the user of the many advantages that can be derived from independent vendor products. However, condemning it won't make it go away, and every third-party vendor must live with the fact that a substantial part of the HP3000 market is forever barred from him.
Forever turned out to last less than 30 years. The change in the third-party vendor picture, whether selling software or services, has delivered a brighter opportunity for anyone who wanted to buy from more than HP. If an application enables your company to "change at the speed of thought," then the exit of the system vendor won't inhibit the useful lifespan of that application. Now there's only two parties in this ecosystem -- you, and anyone who can enhance and support your speed of thought. The third parties have become primary players with HP's exit. Since they created their places with innovation and improvement, I prefer to to call them independents -- or indie vendors, to borrow a term from the movies. The studio system isn't turning out as many great releases 30 years later, in either cinema or computing.
February 08, 2012
3000 group links up to LinkedIn job advice
Editor's Note: The 3000 Newswire has become the official publication of the CAMUS user group, a service we're happy to perform for these MRP and ERP sites which use the classic MANMAN application. Michael Anderson, a board director of the group, asked us to pass along these tips from the group's last meeting -- advice on how to make LinkedIn work best for you. Anderson says, "As our systems migrate to new platforms, so do our associates and coworkers migrate to new jobs. The easiest time to build up your professional network is while you're working on a migration project."
We like LinkedIn as the Facebook for the professional set; there's an HP 3000 Community Group on LinkedIn that's got more than 420 members, ready to network with you on jobs and share advice. The article below was written for the group by Linda Tuerk, executive director of siliconvalleysearch.com. Tuerk notes that adding groups (like that 3000 Group) helps you rise up in the LinkedIn searches.
Your goal is to keep up with your professional friends quickly and easily. LinkedIn can do this.
Your goal is to have a modern version of the business card; you want to appear professional and up to date when clients look you up prior to an appointment, meeting, conference call, or interview. LinkedIn can do this, too.
Your goal, if you're job seeking, is to show up in the first 100 profiles when someone is searching for someone like you. The real goal is to be in the first 10, since that is all that shows per page. Shallow profiles rarely get found. Deep public profiles are searchable on Google/Bing. And internal corporate recruiters and execs are looking for you too. The following are the steps you can take on LinkedIn to raise these odds.
1. Use LinkedIn for interview preparation and business prospects. In a "people" search, type the name of the company; all the employees will come up that are in your network within three levels of separation. You might have to pay LinkedIn $20-80 to see all the names and full profiles. It's probably worth it. You can always do it for just a month.
2. Wordsmith your Headline, Summary, and Specialties sections. They all have maximum allowed spaces. Play with them. Use keywords and titles to describe yourself. Review position descriptions and ads of jobs you want, and pepper your profile with the most frequent, relevant, and desirable. Review peer profiles. For more on this subject, see booleanblackbelt.com and befoundjobs.com. You can also use wordcloud apps like wordle.net to create relevant word clouds.3. Turn off your LinkedIn member feed, profile and status updates from the settings page, found on the popdown menu under your name. Wait a few hours, maybe overnight. You may want to keep some of these off most of the time, depending on how much you want others to see who you are connecting with, etc.
4. There's a new section, Skills. These are pre-selected. You can have 50. These are very important as of late. Some say this section has surpassed keyword density in relevance.
5. Consider job seeking status on a monthly basis. Pro: You end up listed first. Con: You look desperate?
6. Link with as many as you can. Some experts say that you will only show up in search results for your skillset only 3 percent of the time if you are linked to fewer than 200 people. That incidence is supposed to climb to 90 percent if you are linked to "500+." Look for "Open Networkers" and LIONs that will link with everybody. Drop them later if you like.
7. Add Groups related to your professional field. You are allowed 50. Concentrate on ones that have thousands of members at first. Add local ones that seem relevant and have at least 100. Check them out, and as you near your 50 Group maximum, drop some that are less relevant and add the most relevant for you. Most have jobs tabs. Link to Group members you like or that have 500+ connections. Find jobs on Discussion tabs also.
8. Check settings for your public profile. This is searchable by Google, Bing and Yahoo, and there is a huge recruiter subculture using Google strings.
9. Now, turn your privacy settings back to "broadcast mode." Consider whether you want your member feed showing, but you do want your status updates showing, and you might want to update your status 1-2 times per month.
10. Join discussions on your groups, follow the threads that seem to have good content. Comment where appropriate, get your name out there. This is a chance to impress. When you appear knowledgeable in your field, others will come forward and ask to be linked to you. Likewise, you will notice people that you like and can ask to link with or "follow." Check out group events, especially local networking opportunities.
11. Use a good basic headshot for your photo. It gets you three times the responses, compared to no headshot.
February 07, 2012
Managers report on mobile access to 3000s
Put a problem or a possibility in front of HP 3000 veterans and they will share what they know about solutions, usually on the 3000 newsgroup and mailing list. As we first noted last week, the problem of connecting the iPad or iPhone to a 3000 -- or the possibility of enabling this most mobile of clients -- sparked some tests and suggestions from your community.
"I've had a couple of requests from sales people wanting to log on to the HP 3000 to do lookups," said Randy Stanfield of Unisource. It's a company using the HP 3000 in support of its business selling printing materials such as papers, facility supplies and equipment, and packaging materials and equipment.
Telnet, as we noted yesterday, is the state of the art for apps to communicate with the 3000. A telnet client will most probably not know anything about HP escape sequences, so the app access will be nothing more than character-mode.
Consultant and security expert Art Bahrs reports he's found a couple of telnet emulators, and wondered if WRQ might have one that runs on iOS. Alas no, and WRQ became a part of Attachmate years ago. Its Reflection line still offers NS/VT and telnet links to 3000s. Attachmate has no iOS apps, a fact that's easy to confirm because the Apple App Store is the only source of apps that don't need a jailbroken phone or pad. Jailbreaking adds power and options to these devices, but deploying jailbroken iPads to a sales force is a strategy that can change a career.
Then Bahrs checked back in to report on zaTelnet v 3.3, from zaTelnet. Bahrs and other 3000 vets are running tests to see if an iOS device can manage a 3000, access that's a few steps short of user-grade interfaces to 3000 applications.Bahrs said that he was able to test the free version of the telnet iPad app zaTelnet. Many apps are free in this category, with a more fully-featured complement for a few dollars more. "It definitely would work for a quick and dirty trouble shooting session, or to check on a job, or support a user with an abortio or such," he said.
Security is another testing point. ZaTelnet is a SSH2 client for iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. It emulates terminal VT100 and partially xterm -- enough for console programs. ZaTelnet supports SSH2 authorization by plain password, interactive password and private key file.
"SSH is an option," Bahrs said of the secure shell handler on ZaTelnet, "and it did work successfully both ways. There are times that good old fashioned telnet really does come in handy when doing testing, so I test both."
Mocha Telnet, which we mentioned yesterday, gets the job done for 3000 management. "It works perfectly on my iPhone," said support provider Gilles Schipper, "even the Lite (free) version. I can even run HP Glance on it. While it doesn't look too pretty, one can decipher the output. I set the termtype to "hp," rather than the default "vt220."
February 06, 2012
Telnet offers a 3000 link via tablet app
"Our reps connect via the Internet and laptops," said Luen Miller on the Eloquence newsgroup. "But they are all dying to walk around with the iPad." A typical situation for IT to handle: Some of your most persuasive and eloquent users, making a case for bringing their own devices to connect with your corporate server.
Ask a few mobile-savvy consultants about how to marry an iPad with an HP server and you hear the word telnet. One manager reported that the iOS app Mocha Telnet has 700/92 emulation. Of course, there's a bit of the 3000's world missing from that solution -- NS/VT.
Now it might be an odd match to require a 3000 app that's old enough to use NS/VT to link with a mobile tablet that owns more than 95 percent of the tablet marketplace. A 3000 system probably designed in the 1980s, still being delivered to a mobile device that didn't even exist two years ago. If that's the challenge, the full range of 3000 interfaces -- including some of the oldest block mode response -- is not yet being served directly. (The Splashtop Remote Desktop app offers the best chance of that, since it controls a PC desktop over a wi-fi network link.)
If it's an all-3000 solution you need for the 3000, there's a great telnet webpage on the 3k Associates Technical Wiki (Twiki) for the server. The page covers the details of using an indie bit of software, the contributed NQTELNET program written by Eric Schubert of Notre Dame. NQTELNET is a host-based telnet server which will handle basic terminal operations.
What's this about a Twiki for the HP 3000? It's a tech resource set up years ago to capture as much tech expertise as possible from community 3000 managers such as Schubert. You'd be surprised how much is online at the site managed by 3k Associates founder Chris Bartram. But then you might have been surprised to learn that telnet is the interface that keeps on giving to the 3000, even while the community waits for a block mode tablet app to touch all of the MPE/iX apps.
For a better background on the possibilities of the HP 3000's connectivity, comparing telnet to NS/VT, have a look at the 3000 connectivity webpage at AICS Research. One of the great gifts that AICS gave to the community was the free QCTerm terminal emulator. There's top-grade telnet support inside that product, so much so that the freeware recognizes two levels of telnet access.
February 01, 2012
Links last longer in latest survey for 3000
We continue to move through the state of links on the hp3000links.com site, a way of checking up on the web pointers presented at that longtime 3000 community resource. The P-S group of pulldown links on the busy main page has a higher share of valid links than any we've surveyed so far. It may just be the luck of the alphabet, but this group seems to spell stability better than the rest.
First the dead ends, 11 of them. Premiersoft has nobody home at the URL of the same name; the company sold OSCAR, the Online Services Catalog and Application Repository to let HP 3000s host enterprise-wide server objects. (Object tech may have been too many steps ahead of an MPE market sweating out Y2K in 1999.) Retriever Interactive is gone along with its DataAid/3000 for data lookup and manipulation, which was even integrated with Suprtool. Also dead are Riva Systems (referencing exegesys.com, which now points to a French casino machine website); SeraSoft's link, though the company was migrating 3000 sites as of 2010; Software Licensing Corp.; Software Research Northwest, gently retired by founder Wayne Holt, who published the first PA-RISC hardback; Software and Management Consultants; Spentech; Starvision; Symple Systems, and SolutionStore 3000.
We know a lot about that last one. SolutionStore was a 3000 NewsWire project during the late 1990s, our effort to sell and report vendor listings for the 3000 community. In a way it was a precursor to the vendor list of hp3000links.com. A web administrator melted down while he took down the site with no warning. Such madness happens, but it was a serious gaffe to us at the time.
But then there are a dozen survivors, most thriving, some surviving. Pro 3K still leads you to consultant Mark Ranft, tending to servers and also managing the world's biggest fleet of N-Class servers at Navitaire. Productive Software Systems, Quest, Quintessential School Systems, Rich Corn's RAC Consulting, Robelle, Speedware, Solution-Soft, and STR Software, the last still supporting FAX/3000. Syllogize offers support for HP 3000s. Synowledge supports MANMAN, according to the IT Services page on its website, through six offices. There's even a valid link to Shawn Gordon's S.M. Gordon and Associates webpage, listing 3000 software of advancing age.Gordon, one of our hardest-working reviewers, has gone into the Linux business long ago, founding theKompany.com. (Products include Kobol, to take the place of COBOL for customers entering the Linux world.) Quadax is on the hp3000links list because it sold billing apps for healthcare, but the company migrated all clients off the 3000 more than two years ago. Summit Systems still sells credit union solutions, but not for the 3000 any longer. It's all Unix over in the Oregon company, the former turnkey app provider to 3000 owners.
Toting up for this list, we get 12 valid web links to 3000 vendors, 11 fully deceased, and two which lead to places where 3000 is spoken no longer. There's much more that can be done to sort through some of those survivors; we know a website falls short of vetting a company for active 3000 work. But considering that the hp3000links.com resources were built more than a decade ago, and last updated in the spring of 2010, a little under 50 percent is a respectable survival rate.
We'll look at the final 15 entries in this snapshot of 3000 Vendors and Consultants next week. Time moves at a more casual pace in your community, so we don't expect any more deaths in the family over the next seven days.
January 25, 2012
More changes resound at 3000links.com
Welcome to another installment in the historic saga of the HP 3000 resources tracked by hp3000links.com. In our last episode we discovered that about a third of the vendor listings A-G were dead links, while about half of the remainder didn't do 3000 business any longer. The H-O group showed a lot more promise to lead toward active resources. But it's also a strong record of a bygone environment.
Still operating as usual, off the addresses on the links' list, are Horner Consulting (now also Publishing), Ideal Computer Services, MPE/iX Administrator's Guide author Jon Diercks, Lars Appel, Lund Performance Solutions, MB Foster, Cort Wilson's MANMAN Resource website, Mark Bixby of 3000 porting fame, Melander Consulting, Minisoft, Nobix, Opin Systems, OpenSeas and Orbit.
HP Technologies is a programming house that once tended to Amisys healthcare sites and alternatives like the IBM-based Facets. It's all alternatives by now, including the Amisys Advance replacement. Holland House is now at hollandhouse.com, but Holland House has been a member of the Solipsis Group since 2006. Unispool is still for sale there. HP 3000s, or any other specific platform, are not mentioned at the website. Idaho Computer Services became Evolve and then joined Harris Group as it left its municipal 3000 app business. Impact Digital Solutions has dropped off the map and taken down its Discover/3000 search tool.
It's interesting to see how businesses evolved in the turmoil of the post-2001 3000 shakeout. Infocentre's Canadian reservation systems business has become a development house for hotel software, web design and marketing-ecommerce solutions. Operations Control Systems moved its MPE/iX job scheduler to Unix. Instead of a 3000 consultant, the Jim McCoy linked on the site now does bookkeeping and accounting.
Then there's the blindside group, where a link like Interactive Software Systems now leads to a Columbian swinger's club, complete with pounding techno music on its website.Bad links to still-operating 3000 providers are common at hp3000links.com. It's a serious chore to keep up with the comings and goings of web locales. Links among this group even include Iomit International (Olav Kappert, proprietor, has volunteered to help clean up hp3000links). An HP partners webpage lists his current details, as well as a listing on the OpenMPE news blog.
Domains for sale or dead -- and so taking companies into the shadows of the web -- include HiComp, Homestead 3000 Consulting, IT Consulting Consortium, Lancaster Consulting (Bill is four years removed from any 3000, he reports), Managed Business Systems, MIS Resource Group, Monterey Software Group, Omnisolutions and Opus.
January 06, 2012
TSG taking MRP into the cloud during 2012
The Support Group hung out its shingle for cloud-based manufacturing solutions this week, posting webpages that outline how it will integrate the new offering of the Kenandy replacement for MANMAN and other 3000-flavored suites. TSG calls this migration target Social MRP, and it's been chatting up the potential for the Chatter networking feature inside Kenandy's software.
It's early in the social-cloud evolution cycle, but TSG wants to be one of the charter Kenandy Consulting Partners. The business model calls for migration, implementation and customization of a new manufacturing system. TSG's reminding the market that the vendor was the original third-party support company for ASK’s MANMAN system developed in the 1970s -- software that's still running a few hundred manufacturing companies around the world.
Kenandy's Rob Butters told us back in September that one objective of the cloud-based solution was to start with a clean page to serve small companies that want streamlined operations to get the most from their manufacturing apps. ASK's founder Sandy Kurtzig has steered the Kenandy designs to get a simplified approach to manufacturing software systems. Small companies that fill the ranks of 3000 owners have a surprising array of unique manufacturing workflows and business rules. 3000 users who need to move onto a new platform are in a position to leverage the transition into a new way of thinking about MRP.One key to the success of this adventure is using a guide who knows the landscape the customer is leaving behind. TSG's already got 18 years of third-party support experience for MANMAN users, plus the extra two decades that founder Terry Floyd and his team supply from the '70s onward.
TSG calls the concept "Hide the Complexity." The approach couldn't be more different from the over-engineered solutions from Oracle and SAP. In particular, the mainframe foundation of SAP -- with "10,000 software switches" by several IT managers' counts -- puts migrations and outsourcing and clouds way out of the reach of the smaller IT shop. But Oracle and SAP become the default options for a migration, following the "nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM" strategy of the '80s.
In contrast, Social MRP is "software that fits the way you do business, not forcing your business to fit the way the software works," said company president David Floyd. Once the company customizes the look and feel for each individual in a company to hide that complexity, it "follows up on a monthly basis with each individual user as they learn more and expand their productivity."
Manufacturing is a bedrock app in the 3000 world. Small companies that couldn't afford a mainframe in the 1980s picked HP 3000s instead, relying on cost efficiency. With the cloud moving IT's capital costs off the books, and fine-tuned app services from a veteran development staff, Social MRP has the potential to give migrators a new value model -- one that won't need large-scale elements that the big IT shops seem to crave.
January 04, 2012
Tracing 3000links to Their Breaking Points
Once upon a time there was a vast and charted territory of HP 3000 websites and webpages. The resources that appear on hp3000links.com still include some detailed, straight-line jumps to companies still serving 3000 sites. Or at least companies which still have support customers for software products, or contracts to migrate companies off the server.
We rolled up our browser sleeves and waded into hp3000links this afternoon to see what's gone past its sell-by date. If you've been in the marketplace long enough you'll recognize the list of vendors that pops up on the site's front page -- even if some of those company names are all that remain of community resources. More than a dozen out of the first third of the list's vendor links are landing on dead pages or websites that have evolved into other ventures.
For example, 5 Diamond IT Consulting drops you onto the diamonds.com website, where fine jewelery is sold. The old Diamond Optimum Systems once gave HP 3000 users "the Windows interface to MPE management," but the company was merged with Serena Software. Computech's address has become a racing parts website, CSI Business Solutions' a maker of jars for the cosmetics industry. But the 3000links page pop-up (click for detail) still mainlines directions to community stalwarts like 3k Associates, Adager, DIS International (Mark Klein's consulting), G. Schipper and Associates and even Gainsborough House in the UK -- one of the few places where you can read about MPEX from a supplier of the product. (VEsoft doesn't do websites, just the now-rare customer visits.) At 3k Associates, you'll find a Tech Wiki that traces the last known 3000 businesses across a vast list of companies -- and you can contribute what you've learned yourself, wiki-style.Gainsborough is also handling Surveillance/DB, Surveillance/OS, DBControl-Online, GUI3000, Security/3000, VEaudit/3000, and is an outpost for Bradmark's DBGENERAL, DBAUDIT and Superdex. The 3000links pointer to the Bradmark website directs to the Bradmark main page. Another click or two and a scroll down to the bottom of a products page reveals a small pop-up menu with links to the MPE products. Many more references to SQL databases abound on that website.
Other notes we've gleaned from this first pass and data check of the 3000links.com's Vendors and Consultants menu:
• Advanced Network Systems, where David Thatcher developed the ADBC database middleware, lands on a "not found" 404 page.
• The Aldon Computer Group, which once offered 3000 COBOL tools, has no 3000 notes among its products.
• Carolian Software, Computing Solutions Ltd., Education & Training Consulting Services, Computer Financial Services, Cosmos Technology and Fioravanti Redwood Inc. all point to links that are in hibernation (addresses ready for sale) or retired links.
• Carter-Pertaine's link doesn't lead anywhere, but that's because the maker of school systems long ago merged with K-12 vendor QSS.
• Cognos connects to PowerHouse products, after three clicks
• Crawford Software Consulting is still doing HP 3000 services for MANMAN, GrowthPower, and lists itself as a reseller for Minisoft and MB Foster products
• Former support powerhouse Datagate Incorporated closed at the end of 2010 after 32 years. Datagate Systems LLC was formed by some former engineers and managers from Datagate’s Defense Systems Group. The new, leaner Datagate lists 9GB A4910A disks in its inventory. But that's not a novelty; a refurbished 9GB disk is available on Amazon for $82.76 (from IT Equipment Xpress)
• DataNow now points to Evolve, selling "software for municipalities, utilities and co-ops"
• Denkart NV still includes a link to ViaNova 3000, which as it has for years promises to "transfer entire customer-developed environments from HP 3000 to Open Systems like HP-UX or Linux."
• DISC's Omnidex supported-platforms page does not mention HP 3000 or IMAGE. Only the "Generic ODBC" interface holds any hope of support for MPE/iX databases. Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL are listed as supported database technologies.
• Easy Does It Technologies was acquired by Integrated Information Systems in 2003.
• Entrix Computing looks to be still run by Kim Harris, but it now "specifies solutions for Internet access requirements over mobile phone networks and wired broadband and offers a vast range of fibre to copper media converters."
• eXegeSys has been pointed at Azurri, which bills itself as one of the "UK’s leading IT support and implementation companies." The definition of support follows other indie suppliers. It says it is "committed to supporting the HP 3000 MPE/iX product range beyond the manufacturer's support withdrawal date. New and existing customers can be assured of our continuing support services for HP 3000 range, built on our 20 years experience."
• Glassman Consulting Services reports on its migration progress. Its client Genesis Health System’s Precision 2000 system "is finally getting decommissioned along with the legacy HP3000 hardware platform that it resided."
— G.R. Helm still points to Adager and Robelle on its own links page, but it also lists Interex.org as a resource.
Then this list pops up dead links to an HP 3000 Consultant List and an HP 3000 Vendor List. We'll keep up the digging to help renovate the 3000links.com to some useful extent -- plus point out more current resources on the web, too.
January 03, 2012
Happy New Year: Now we're 400 or so
Most of our in-boxes are full and the calendar planning is in overdrive today. It's the first full day of office work for the new year in many companies, what with the Jan. 2 Monday being a holiday all over. But there's already expansion afoot in the HP 3000 community.
Specifically, the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community now numbers more than 400 members. Fresh faces include Peter Prager, whose company sells XML solutions that work with MPE/iX; AMISYS/3000 developer Blanchard Carter; Lendy Middendorf, Senior System Administrator at Smurfit-Stone; Gavin Scott, VP of development at Allegro Consultants. Some are homesteading, others have moved to new platforms. And sure, there are recruiters in there, but they do have a line on jobs.
LinkedIn is a go-to destination to expand your career options. One of our favorite members, Scott Hirsh, used to manage the HP 3000 System Manager's Special Interest Group. He's long beyond the 3000 community these days, tending to cloud computing storage needs at Nirvanix. But Hirsh said that showing a strong LinkedIn profile with plenty of connections scores you higher when an employer or partner researches you.
If you don't belong to the group, join today. There's hundreds of people there who will make good contacts for you, as well as a news feed and discussions about 3000 issues and the future we're headed for in this new year.
December 23, 2011
Holiday Gifts and Promises for All
On Wednesday we took note of some of the first response we received concerning the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. One former OpenMPE volunteer said that a $25,000 emulator wouldn't serve his needs. Martin Gorfinkel said he doesn't have his Series 9x9 3000 turned on much anymore, and he'd like to have an archival replacement.
J.P. Bergmans of Stromasys added his reply. "He is absolutely right," Bergmans said. "But I would say that almost whatever the price of the emulator and the equipment would be, a better answer to a need like this is a cloud-based HP 3000/MPE compatible service, billed on usage. This would be a far better solution, and we are indeed looking at that service model."
So we think of that as a present for the new year to come: a brand-new usage-based 3000 solution for our community. Maybe not so brand new, if you want to think of time-sharing of the 70s as the same idea, but certainly refined and turbo-charged for 40 years later.
Here at the NewsWire my co-founder Abby and I are taking the next three days off to celebrate Christmas; even the banks aren't open Monday. We count as our gifts for this year, and the ones to come, our faithful sponsors who make these reports possible: at present, Adager, MB Foster, Speedware, The Support Group, Pivital Solutions, Robelle, ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software, Hillary Software, Genisys, Applied Technologies and its MPE-OpenSource.org web resource, and Taurus Software. We'll see you all on Tuesday.
December 16, 2011
Opening Resources for a Long 3000 Future
Brian Edminster makes an open secret of his sharing practices. The consultant, developer and advocate for the HP 3000 and open source software has combined those last two items into a new resource this fall. MPE-OpenSource.org is amassing a collection of public, free-use software that can improve 3000 health and longevity, one porting contributor’s portfolio at a time. His first contact with a 3000 was in high school on a Series II, hacking over dialup using an HP2640A terminal. He started programming on a 3000 in 1978 for an HP Value Added Reseller, going on to work with a 3000 graphics software vendor, with MM II Customiser software, computer administering for the UPI news service, developing and managing an Amisys healthcare system, as well as jobs managing the HMS retail apps used in airports — plus diving outside the 3000 to rewrite and rehost to AIX, Informix, Windows Server, SQL Server, and Oracle.
It’s not common to find a 3000 pro of 33 years who still has the gusto that Edminster displays. He’s been a fulltime independent contractor and consultant for the last 10 years, operating Applied Technologies. Some of the work involves using open source tools to extend 3000 ability. He’s a proponent of the idea that HP 3000s can still pass PCI security audits. And he’s also sponsored OpenMPE with contributions, a very rare profile in the community. We emailed our questions to him after his website just got publishing permission from Lars Appel — an open source porting legend who moved Samba to MPE/iX, among other projects.
What prompted you to start a repository of open source software?
Well, at the risk of being flippant – because no one else was doing it. With the demise and only partial reviving of Jazz, much of the free content was dwindling. Yes, Chris Bartram’s www.3k.com site has some open source apps, and so do some others – but many of them cheated and only linked to the software on Jazz. So when Jazz went offline, so did availability of that software.
Also, www.MPE-OpenSource.org focuses on just that: Open source software. I’m working to host software when I can get permission, and link to it (with backup copy kept) in other cases. I’ll host scripts and freeware (code that’s free but not open source), but that’s not the site’s primary focus.
I am still actively looking for contributions. If you haven’t talked to me yet, and you’d like to host software on my site — even if you have no intention of supporting it — drop me an email.
What would you say are the three most useful open source tools for a 3000 site doing its own administration?
One of my short-list projects for MPE-OpenSource is getting MPE/iX clients published for management systems like XYMon. I’m also playing with some Perl scripts that are designed to make managing disk space easier. “Which 3 tools” is not as important as just making sure that MPE/iX can play nice with whatever an enterprise is using to monitor/manage their other systems.
That’s almost funny. If anything, it’s the other way around. Even though the system is nearly legendary in its robustness, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real reason that the 3000 has served so reliably for so long is because the people that manage it are careful. I call them the Belt and Suspenders crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
What’s the non-3000 technology that you have found most fun to use?
I’d have to say use of PCs as workstations, in spite of the love-hate relationship I have with them. All kidding aside, we’ve come a long way since the days of DOS and Windows 3.. Using workstation-based IDEs (like ProgrammerStudio) have revolutionized programming productivity. Even something as simple as having a terminal emulator with a display longer than 24 lines makes a remarkable difference. Also, use of data analysis tools on the workstation (even tools as simple as Excel) have changed the way we follow the data. It makes identifying trends and patterns in data significantly easier to recognize.
Why did you donate to OpenMPE during its fundraising drives?
Two reasons: Because I could – and this was primarily because of the 3000. MPE/iX’s been Very Very Good to me. And like my website, it’s a way of giving back to the community.
Secondly, because I want this platform to live on, until the ease of administration and robustness in operation commonly found under MPE/iX application systems is so common as to be taken for granted in any other system.
In many ways, the 3000 was quite a bit ahead of its time, and can still lead by example with regard to how robust a system can and should be. I believe in what OpenMPE was trying to do in those efforts, regardless of where it is now, or ends up in the future.
How far would you estimate, in years, an HP 3000 site can take a production system?
There’s a lot of comments along the lines of “Running them until the wheels fall off.” So I guess you’re asking how long it’ll be until that happens. The answer is: it depends, but from a practical perspective, quite a long time. The parts that wear out are mostly the moving parts (disk drives, tape drives, and cooling fans). It’s already getting difficult to find SCSI disk drives under 9GB.
Ultimately, we’ll have to start using interface adapters, and unless someone gets clever and figures out how to partition a large physical disk into multiple smaller logical disks, we’ll end up wasting the majority of the drive’s capacity (the maximum space addressable by MPE/iX version 7.5 on a single drive is 512GB, and under v 6.5 only 300GB). Really, the only thing we need a tape for is using SLT/CSLT tapes, when replacing a system volume set. Backups will become nearly completely store-to-disk or equivalent with FTP or some other transfer method to an external storage mechanism or provider.
The next software gotcha is the limit of the date intrinsics (at the rollover from 2027 to 2028) but I trust we can deal with that in a similar way to how Y2K was addressed. From a practical perspective, I’d venture to guess that the hardware will outlive the business need for some homegrown software systems, unless they continue to grow — and that’s an especially exciting possibility with the new Stromasys emulator coming available.
Something I’ve discovered is software/systems are like sharks. They’ll die if they stop moving. Even when a businesses’s needs are relatively static, technology isn’t. Eventually, there’ll be a ‘better’ way to solve the business need with newer technologies – unless the software integrates new technologies, as appropriate.
December 15, 2011
Renovating Links for the 3000 Community
Long before HP decided the 3000's future would be limited at that vendor, the computer had plenty of Web attention. Interex, HP, Client Systems' 3kworld.com website -- all were delivering 3000 web resources right alongside the 3000 NewsWire web efforts. All of these have gone dark by today. Interex.org now belongs to an insurance firm in Germany, 3kworld.com bounces to a vague "Computer Training" page that looks like a placeholder. Former magazine HPProfessional.com now lands in Japan without a trace of English on the page. HP's links to Jazz specialties have survived in part on the Client Systems and Speedware web enterprises. There are still holes remaining to fill in those resources, however.
Then there's hp3000links.com, the one-stop webpage created, cultured and nurtured by John Dunlop. Filled with pop-up boxes and dozens of links, the site was a destination for the 3000 user in the 1990s, and then became one for those who wanted to bypass the slanted results of Google searches. New links appeared and a raft of 3000 vendors and suppliers had their own pull-down addresses. They still do, because hp3000links is still operational. It's just in need of renovation. Dunlop's done a tremendous job of hosting this and keeping it up for many years.
Along with IT consultant Olav Kappert, we've chosen to help spruce up and weed out hp3000links.com. The concept is still pretty sound: One Internet domain where a bookmark could help you locate that HP 3000 Relative Performance chart created by AICS, or the Perl Programming on MPE/iX slide set [thanks to Client Systems] from developer Mark Bixby. The former link is right where hp3000links says it should be. But those Perl slides have now slid to a newer HP address -- a PDF file of a master directory which tracks such 3000 resources [which you can download right now from our files, if you need it].
A Google search might do the trick to circumvent these shifty links, but why let Google know even more about your desires than it already does? Doesn't the 3000 still deserve its own landing page?Speedware's posted a nice chunk of the Jazz contents on its site, thanks to the rehosting license the company signed with HP back in 2009. But the route is twisty to get to something called "PDF and HTML versions of many of the MPE manuals." One click takes you to a PDF file that HP is still hosting. Then you search for MPE/iX on that PDF page, and then click on a link that takes you to the 6.0 or the 7.0 manuals fork along HP's documentation road.
Would you like a speed-dial to the current location of those manuals? It's the kind of thing that hp3000links did with selected resources. Dunlop acted as an editor while he maintained the site for more than a decade. Now it's becoming a community project to clean out, like that pretty neighborhood park that got overgrown until those peculiar old fellas started to come by to weed and hoe and plant.
We'd like to see our readers visit hp3000links.com to check out the renovation, offer some catcalls and heckling, and suggest alternative links. The webpage, which is hosted by 3000 IT manager James Byrne for at least a few more months, even has a submission box for suggesting links. You might drop us a note on updates inside that box -- which is at the bottom of the very busy webpage. We'll be busy awhile, too.
December 14, 2011
Stealing or Scrapping Older HP 3000s
Owners of older HP 3000s have an end-of-life issue in front of them, sooner or later. Sometimes, as is the case at Cygnus Publishing, a 3000 is going offline to be replaced by a Windows server. What to do with the remaining hardware, usually so old that using it as a production box is not an option?
Subscriptions won't be processed any longer using the Datatrax app on the 3000 at Cygnus, said Eric Sedmak. He's been put in charge of moving the system out the door. The company is based in Wisconsin, and Sedmak wasn't sure which model was being turned off at the end of this month. We suggested contacting support providers in his area. Someone like Preferred Systems in Minnesota might pick up a box in neighboring Wisconsin for spare parts.
(MB Foster has developed a program and practices for decommissioning HP 3000s. The company held a webinar this afternoon on its practices. We'll have an article here soon on the advice that was given.)
On the other hand, if you're collecting old HP 3000s, a Series 70 HP 3000 Classic is on eBay until next week. Refresh Computer in Orlando is trying to get takers for this "vintage and loaded" system. As 3000 vets know, this is a beast of a piece of iron, one that might be placed in a garage to aid in heating during the winter months. To be certain, HP engineered the 70 to survive such harsh conditions. Hey, it's got four 4MB RAM modules (probably LP-sized boards) for 16MB of main memory, plus it includes an HP 150 Touchscreen PC for a monitor. (That's Touchscreen, not TouchPad. The Touchscreen had a lifespan of at least three years of sales, instead of the TouchPad's three months.) the Touchscreen alone is a steal, since there's just as much vendor software coming for the 1980s PC as that TouchPad.)
We're not sure if you can call a Series 70 a holiday gag gift, since some support companies might want one of these to test against customers' systems. But as the first Series 70 we've seen on eBay, you might think of it as a steal.The comment stream on selling this item -- it's on offer for the third time -- reflects how much has changed in 3000 ownership and stewardship. It also shows some realism as well as nostalgia.
• Can anyone in Florida save this HP 3000? Not mine but I would love to see someone with the space grab it and at least store it and save it from the scrapper. I know there are/were a few big iron HP fans here. This is the third time its been listed. Cheap enough now for a local scrapper to profit from it. Probably won't be a 4th listing.
• I've been watching this too, along with the 7937 hard drives and the 7978 tape drive, simply because I used to work on these systems. The Series 70 is a beast of a machine, and requires 220V for power. I'm not in a position to rescue it though, either in terms of proximity or space.
• Honestly, to me, these machines have no real value beyond what I could auction it for, as they're nothing that I have a personal connection with, and they're too archaic for me to enjoy recreating the past. I think that the retro-computing/emulation things are ways for people to wax nostalgic and enjoy the things that they used to enjoy.
• I'm really tempted. I'll actually be in the area around Xmas. Is it worth renting a van? What would I even do with this?
• Just Do It. The opportunity won't come again and you'll be kicking yourself for years to come.
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone" (BANG )
• Pretty neat server. You'll have to get a few friends a few beers to go along with ya when you pick it up, though. I can only imagine the weight of that thing.
• Not too many people that have that much space in their house. It would be just as bad for someone got it and put it in a shed or garage with no climate control. You would probably need a forklift to move it around. Could you even fit it through the front door of a house?
• Besides the power requirements, you'd still have to find a copy of MPE to run on it.
On that last score, the HP Computer Museum website can provide a copy of MPE V/E for use on this Series 70.
December 08, 2011
Alas, Oracle, you've blown off HP's Unix
HP-UX sites which run Oracle have no idea if Oracle's 12G database, scheduled for next year, will run on their Integrity hardware. HP has said on its last two quarterly conference calls that the uncertainty about Oracle has driven down sales of the Business Critical Systems group.
This one risk that a vendor takes when it decides to partner closely with a third party, instead of the old-school model of including a vendor-built database like IMAGE. This isn't meant to slam any third party database maker, because there are some good ones out there. Even Oracle has lots of fans.
But Oracle has used its database as way to sell its own Unix, Solaris. And now it appears there's saucy language about the man leading the sales charge for Solaris servers, Mark Hurd, inside Oracle's dramatic lawsuit language. We know, "dramatic lawsuit language" are not three words usually found together. But Oracle led by Ellison has always filled its sales with lots of breezy boasts. To the point, one stretch of the lawsuit against HP claims there are lies, and the truth, about Integrity servers.
The contrast between what HP was discussing internally — the truth — and what it was telling the market and its actual and prospective customers — blatant lies — could not be more stark.
It's not often you find marketing prose in a lawsuit, which might start hearings in April -- after HP has closed two more quarters. That will make a full year of Oracle pullout messages for HP's Unix customers.
HP says Oracle is contributing to the decline of HP's Unix line. HP's started to fall back on EnterpriseDB, which is extending its product line to include a new Postgres Plus Cloud Server. A webcast one week from today will include a demo -- but first, an outside analyst will explain the differences between cloud databases. The analyst is unlikely to compare lawsuit language between these warring vendors, both of whom are aiming to capture HP 3000 migration business. (And there's a more focused webcast for HP 3000 users one day earlier, on Dec.14 when MB Foster explains 3000 Decommissioning plans.)IT managers who register for the EnterpriseDB webcast on Dec. 15 will hear
Matt Aslett, senior analyst enterprise software, 451 Research, examine the difference between databases running in the public cloud, and databases that will be used to power private and hybrid clouds. He will provide an overview of the functional requirements that separate database running in the cloud from true cloud databases.
It might not matter as much as you'd think if Oracle stops supporting HP-UX. That's the view from Michael Marxmeier, who offers the IMAGE alternative Eloquence for HP-UX, as well as Intel-based servers. (He says he's doing lots of Linux business by now.) More on that tomorrow.
December 05, 2011
Two Dev Editors for One Classic Platform
As we created our November print issue of the 3000 NewsWire, one of the Q&A subjects, Brian Edminster, gave us a photo of himself in front of a pair of monitors. Each had a different development editor: Robelle's Qedit for Windows, which hardly needs any introduction to 3000 users, who've deployed Qedit since the 1980s and continue to support it in its Windows incarnation; and Programmer Studio -- which, alas, saw its creators Whisper Technology go dark several years ago.
Edminster, who's stocking the HP 3000's community's open source repository, told us he likes both tools, enough to have a paid license for each. (Programmer's Studio had a free trial option that created a lot of shadow customers.) Using his HP 3000 terminal emulator from WRQ, Edminster notes
Edminster gave us a rundown on his toolbox for development in 3000 environments and beyond.
I've got two Reflection windows open to sessions on different systems on the left monitor, and Programmer Studio on the right (yes, it's kinda like MPE/iX -- no longer maintained, but it works just fine), and about a dozen other apps either web-based or other. I can't even imagine working on a traditional 'green-screen' to do programming anymore. There are good features of both -- but Qedit for Windows is more like a stand-alone editor that uses the Windows GUI. Each has its strengths.
Programmer Studio is much more like a conventional IDE -- something that programmers from other platforms (especially Windows) would find more familiar. Both it and Qedit do syntax highlighting/coloring. I like the one-button compiler integration with PStudio (where it can display the source code and after a compile with errors -- position you at each error so you can fix them, then f4 to take you to the next error, etc). It also, for certain languages (C, and COBOL, at least) shows a structure of the program in window on the left allows very easy navigation of the source.
The Regular Expression searches capability is really great too -- not just within a file, but across entire directories of files. I use this often to find references to variables across an entire source library. The results are shown in a 'find results' window. If you double-click on the found line, it'll open the code in another tab, positioning the cursor to that line.
By the way, for people that have to edit files on servers that don't allow FTP access, but do allow ssh/sftp access, there's a third party add-on I found called ExpanDrive (www.ExpanDrive.com). It's a tool that works on both Macs and Windows to allow 'mounting' file systems on your workstation - and just about any workstation software can then access them. This has allowed me to use PStudio in places where I wouldn't have, otherwise. I've mentioned this on the 3000-L a while ago.
I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but there's a multi-platform open source IDE that's functionally similar to PStudio called Eclipse, a Java-based IDE with plug-in architecture (allows adding functionality/features) that runs under Linux, Mac OS/X, and WIndows. Unfortunately PStudio is not extensible via plug-ins like Eclipse is -- even though it does have a 'tools' menu -- to allow adding limited integration of external tools. Eclipse is designed such that plug-ins are fully integrated, and can essentially transform how the tool works. Pretty amazing stuff. And yes, there are a number of plug-ins that facilitate working with COBOL, as well a multitude for Java and other more recent languages.
December 02, 2011
HP Connects users on power and cloud
By Terry Floyd
The Support Group
The HP Connect users group sponsored a luncheon seminar meeting in Austin a few weeks ago, with two diverse speakers and topics. Kristi Browder, Executive Director and COO of Connect, lead the meeting and introduced the speakers.
Clyde Poole, of TDi Technologies, talked about “What you Should Know Before Moving to the Cloud.” It was not a sales pitch for his Plano-based company; rather, the presentation was a generic and informative speech. Clyde spoke from years of data center experience as he covered the “gotcha’s” of cloud computing. He discussed three or four definitions of “the cloud” and gave examples of each (SalesForce, Amazon, etc.). It was a speech intended to urge caution when moving data to the cloud, covering legal and security issues and their inherent risk exposures.
Clyde’s best tip was to visit wiki.cloudsecurityalliance.org, a site where the CSA describes issues concerning cloud deployment. There you learn where Clyde got some of his ideas about the major Service Models: SaaS (Software), PaaS (Platform), and IaaS (Infrastructure). On that site is also a great piece on Public vs. Private clouds (and Hybrids) and about required characteristics of clouds, such as Resource Pooling, Broad Network Access, Rapid Elasticity, Self-Service provisioning, and what Measured Services means.
David Chetham-Strode, an HP’er of 15 years, spoke on “Power and Cooling”, introducing innovations the invent brand has introduced in the last year or two. He spoke about new power distribution products that have come out of HP’s own data center projects. David spent a lot of time discussing power loss and what Hewlett Packard has done to increase efficiencies from 90 percent to as much as 98 percent, big savings in electricity in big data centers. He revealed secrets of air flow and “cooling from within the row of servers” instead of from above or below.David also mentioned the “chimney” products and why they have no fans (not just that they are not needed, but that they disrupt the flow). Did you know that the new rear doors on the solidly-built HP cabinets have more holes than their competitors’ cabinets? This presentation was interesting to me, even the minutia about power cabling, the explanation of why blue was used for the A/C connections’ color coding, and the fact that HP is working on eliminating A/C and going with D/C for the most efficiency possible.
A couple of dozen people attended the free seminar and I’m sure all agreed that the meal was excellent. Everyone received a 1GB USB storage device with HP’s name and a Connect koozie. I won one of the two door prizes, a bag of goodies including the ever-present and very high quality HP mouse pad, as well as two different mice, another 1GB thumb drive, and a pedometer (in case I wanted to know how many steps it was back to my car – several hours later it is up to 2,245).
I learned a few useful, interesting items and met some nice people, including four Connect employees and four HP people. It was a good effort and worth my time to try to re-connect with Connect. But it’s lonesome for an MPE guy in this world. I identified Compaq and Non-Stop people, but HP-UX was probably in the majority of the crowd’s resumes.
November 28, 2011
Making it Easier, One Decade Later
The tools of my trade have come a long way in a decade of work, just as yours have in computing. Actually, there's an intersection there between us, since the tools of computing have changed the way I can tell stories. Journalism is sometimes called literature in a hurry, and there's nothing like the rush of big news to put a scribbler in a rush.
That's what was happening in November, 2001, when I got my rock-your-world report from my partner Abby about our newsletter and the HP 3000 and the future of both. We knew HP's future in the 3000 that night, when it was likely to wind down and how serious they were about ending it. We also knew there was another side of the story to tell about the community that the vendor was leaving. HP was already at work telling their tales about migration and a declining ecosystem. We had to get busy to catch up.
It all seems so antique now. The long ride on the train with an open notebook on the Eurostar table, writing out question after question. Getting a hotel with a good phone system booked in London, for HP had promised a con-call to brief me less than a week before they'd tell customers. Shopping for a portable cassette tape recorder, plus an acoustic mic pickup, to make recorded notes for such a crucial story.
Then afterward, at 8 PM Euro time, when it was just lunch in California, I trek off to the EasyNet Internet Cafe. A spot that any tourist or pilgrim could use the Internet to write stories I would email to Abby, via AOL, so she could set them in print for our newsletter. We'd held the presses, yup, and it all depended on how fast I could get quotes out of that tape recorder and its cheap earphone, writing up the news I'd heard, and then another piece on what I thought it meant.
I got lucky that night. There was a problem with the Cafe's billing, so everybody's Internet time was free. It was one less thing to think about, so I could let the muse lead me to call the non-migrators "homesteaders." When you create something that's swell and durable, you must thank the gods for good fortune that rewards the practice your craft.You've probably felt that kind of luck in creating something during your careers -- that insight that turned out to be right and make the whole program run without any error on the compile, or the magic of making connections between two things the makers never intended to work together. You try to remember how it felt, because you want to believe in the luck for the next time you're batting at the keys in cafe where it's about to snow outside and you're not dressed for it.
Skip ahead 10 years, and you don't worry about which COBOL to use or whether that's the right SCSI cable and terminator. Or if you've got time on the Internet or the hours to skim through tape for one quote. As I tapped out a blog story about the great Steve Jobs, how he admired Hewlett and Packard, and stop that HP PC snickering, he said very near his own demise. They built a company with a legacy, and he wants that for Apple.
I'm right in the middle of this, when HP calls a pop press conference with its new CEO. Decides that PCs are still its game. I listen right along with every other business writer, get a story posted online along with the Merc in San Jose and the Journal. Just luck along with tools that make stories leap through time, another kind of Easy Net. Thanks for the work you've done over the last 10 years in your industry. It's making it easy.
November 23, 2011
As holiday looms, research migration today
The US Thanksgiving weekend -- the only guaranteed four-day holiday all year -- will be upon IT departments in just a few more hours. Watch the "out of office" auto-messages pop up on your email replies. But if it's before noon on the West Coast, or just short of the traffic jams on one of the worst commuting days of the year, you can learn more about data migration from an MB Foster webinar today. (Thanksgiving is an October holiday in Canada, where MB Foster is headquartered.)
The vendor reminds us that it's been in the migration business for decades by now, since migrating data has been a principal enterprise there. "Data generated and consumed by applications is driven by multiple business requirements, which in turn are supported by business processes. The approaches taken to the migration depends on those requirements. Data migrations and associated tasks are usually performed programmatically to move and map old system data to the new system," MB Foster says in an invitation to a 11AM PST / 2PM EST webinar, Data Migration, Conversions, Integration.
It's that data that is the most crucial element on 3000s still running companies. At the end of the process is decommissioning, a service the vendor is ready to help migrators prepare for.
In this webinar we will outline database migrations, data conversions and data integration approaches. We will also be reviewing data challenges that could possibly impede a successful migration and decommissioning.
There's still time to register online for the 45-minute briefing.
We'll be taking tomorrow off, with a little bit of coverage on Friday, to celebrate the holiday here and give thanks for your constant interest and our sponsors' support. Have a safe and sumptuous weekend
November 11, 2011
Take a search into our print issues, online
Every three months, The 3000 NewsWire returns to its roots and arrives in paper and an envelope. It's a format that we first delivered 16 years ago. No matter how fast the Web can update us, there's a different pace of education and insight that comes off the printed page. We're fortunate to have the support of community sponsors to keep our print issue alive. (Frankly, it would be hard to get me to stop creating it, coming from a "stop the presses" heritage at newspapers here in Texas.)
But onward to my point: You can read those printed issues here on your PC or laptop, created as PDF files. The latest one is always available from a click at the top left corner of our main website page on this blog. We also have an archive which is summarized below, with links for downloads.
This month marks the start of our 17th Volume, as we old-timers say in the publishing business, each of those volumes one year of printed editions. Our volumes begin in the fall, when the 3000 NewsWire was born. As it turns out, November became a pretty important month for the 3000 -- but that's a story for next Monday, Nov. 14.
One advantage of creating a PDF file of these print issues is that they can be searched with a PDF reader. All of these articles are included in our blog, after selected stories get "Print Exclusive" status -- first available only in paper. But if you want to enjoy the print presentation -- a magazine style, if you will -- click below. If you'd like to have a copy arrive in your postal mailbox at the soonest date, send an email to me at the NewsWire and I'll ensure you're on the mailing list for premium paper. Be sure to include a mailing address.
So we'll see you in the papers -- you never can be sure whose picture or name was in the news on a page that's printed. It's worth a look; collect 'em all, as they used to say in the comic books. Maybe there's a place for a Ken-Do revival in 2012's printed NewsWires.
November 10, 2011
HP puts down Oracle, which puts up Solaris
Hewlett-Packard summoned a market analyst to tell its HP-UX customers "Unix is not going away in the near future," said Dan Olds, founder of Gabriel Consulting. "Probably not even past the near future."
These kinds of assurances are needed in a marketplace where Linux has all the buzz and Windows all the populace among environment choices. Sure, the apps drive the OS choices, but a company's got to ensure it can retain and train the IT pros who keep apps alive and moving, instead of stalled. As one example, the replacement-for-IMAGE database Eloquence keeps growing "to keep your applications from stalling," said founder Michael Marxmeier.
Eloquence runs on Windows, Linux and Unix. It the last arena it becomes a player in the ongoing saga of What Will HP Do About Oracle? Oracle sells one of the biggest competitors to HP-UX, Solaris. Last week HP said that Oracle's Unix, Solaris, is a distant third in customer support and deployment to HP's Unix. This week Oracle announced a Version 11 of Solaris, which will be marketed as a cloud-friendly OS. It's also got tighter integration with Oracle's database, a strategy HP once used to great effect in the HP 3000, with MPE plus IMAGE. Here's a telling passage from a Computerworld story on how the link-up works for Solaris: "By controlling an entire stack of software, the company can make holistic decisions over which part of the stack would be best suited to tweak to gain performance improvements."
That's not in the field to be surveyed today, and perhaps not even this year. The message during the one-hour HP webcast relied upon a 2010-11 Gabriel survey of companies already using some kind of Unix. Prompted by HP's Katie Curtin-Mestre, Olds said that Oracle is well behind HP and IBM in categories like OS Quality, Patching Quality, availability as observed by a user base, plus a lot more. Olds -- whose 15 years in IT includes nine years of marketing consulting for hire -- said it's a two-vendor race for commercial Unix, where "Oracle is not as competitive as they would hope, or we expected. In some areas, since Oracle took over Sun and stabilized it, they've lost some ground."
HP would be happy to learn that continues to be true. The Gabriel survey was taken during the first six months of work by Mark Hurd, former CEO, who has led the Sun/Oracle rebound culminating in a fresh Solaris and refresh of the SPARC chips. How this webcast chest-thumping by HP will imact its wish to get Oracle to love Itanium/Integrity once again -- well, that's anybody's guess. But it's hard to portray the webcast as an olive branch.
One thing feels certain: when you use red as the color to depict a vendor on a PowerPoint slide, it's never a friendly label. HP's customers are observing that Solaris is much slower than HP-UX, but HP's Unix is just 1.3 percent faster than IBM's Unix. This may be a two-horse race in observations and speed. But HP needs Oracle to keep its customers on HP-UX servers, and coloring the company red looks as combative as suing its rival to keep supporting HP's Unix.Other high points of the HP-Gabriel survey (Olds calls the study a Vendor Face-Off):
"It will be interesting to see what happens, now that Oracle has released some new systems. We'll see if they resonate with customers." (We're not certain how Oracle will participate in the new Face-Off, but the vendors don't need to be part of the polling. Some vendors do pay for webcasts of the results, though.)
This kind of report is no new tactic in getting customer loyalty pumped up. The objectivity comes under scrutiny when an outside consultant says, "It's clear that the commercial Unix market is primarily a two-horse race between IBM and HP. Oracle hasn't managed to turn Sun around in any significant way."
Olds said, "Customers are still using more Unix capacity than they used the year before. There's a lot of churn, as they move stuff to x86 and take out Unix platforms. But they're also adding Unix platforms. The amount of capacity shift is more than what's being turned off." So the Unix advocate is now looking at capacity rather of footprint. They've lost the war on server counts, although HP continues to report its Unix servers lead that sector in market share.
"The [capacity] growth isn't as fast as it was back in the day of the early-to-mid '90s," Olds said. That's the period where HP is plundering the HP 3000 base for converts to HP-UX, and Windows doesn't have any traction as an enterprise environment. Linux was little more than an experiment back in the day. Olds then asserts that "nothing's growing like it was back then." That will come as news to Red Hat, SUSE and the other Linux providers.
"Unix has moved to a different place; it's become that mission-critical platform," Olds said. Right on the money, from the reports of the former 3000 sites who've turned to Unix. None of them report that Unix is any more mission-critical than the 3000, but we don't have a superb window into the largest of Unix customers. For the most part, that size of site didn't use the 3000.
Fewer shipments, larger systems, greater uptime needs: Some of this sounds like the HP 3000 situation of the late 1990s, when footprints of MPE/iX were being overtaken by Windows and Unix. Nobody knows the future for sure, even when a vendor tells the tale: witness the assurances of HP World 2001 about the 3000 vs. the pullout just three months later. But the future of Unix is now tied firmly to big systems and mission-critical capacity. It's hard to see how that competes with the nimble and smaller options from the cloud, even if HP says Unix is a part of its cloud computing plans.
HP's Curtin-Mestre said "we get a lot of questions about Integrity [servers] and Itanium, and to add to your point, the Itanium market revenue is larger than AMD as a whole." That's a lot of sales, but now the vendor is comparing its Unix business to a smaller subset of the Windows x86 alternative. "This whole conversation reminds me of the old adage from Mark Twain, that 'rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.' "
It was a "report" rather than rumors that Twain replied to, for those who admire the humorist's accuracy. He lived another 13 years after his handwritten note to Frank Bliss. The note sprang from reports Twain had died, but it was his cousin who'd been ill. People like to think of operating environments as having a lifespan, especially HP, which encouraged the thought that MPE/iX was dying, along with the HP 3000 and for that matter, IBM's AS/400. We'd rather consider Twain's writing about death in 1906 in Mark Twain in Eruption as a means of getting the most honesty from the departed.
I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead--and not then until we have been dead years and years. People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier.
Perhaps as the MPE/iX OS moves into its 11th year of being "dead," HP-UX can hope for a similar future. If nothing else, the vendor won't need to hire outside analysts to prove people are still using and choosing its proprietary OS.
November 03, 2011
Is it a test next Wednesday, or the real thing?
By Birket Foster
MB Foster Associates
Remember growing up where a test of the emergency alert system would periodically come on the radio with a piercing noise, and inform you that this was just a test, and in the case of a real emergency further instructions will follow? It's coming back, sooner than you think. We expect to hear it just minutes before our next webinar.
For the first time ever, the FCC and FEMA are conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). It will happen at 2 pm Eastern on Wednesday, November 9 -- just 2 days before binary day (you know, 111111, or November 11, '11).
Will our children even know what this is about, as they get home from school and have their favorite TV show interrupted by an emergency signal? Will housewives everywhere worry about the “national emergency” that will appear to be happening? Maybe it will have the same impact on society as the radio play of HG Wells “The War of the Worlds,” a timeless science fiction classic of the invasion of earth by Martians.
Our live demonstration of MBF Scheduler, and the recently announced enhancements of HIPRI, RUNNOW and Subqueues, will take 45 minutes -- but during the first two minutes we will see how the world reacts to EAS, and then carry on from there.Wikipedia reports that the EAS is a national warning system in the United States put into place on January 1, 1997, when it superseded the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which itself had superseded the CONELRAD System.
In addition to alerting the public of local weather emergencies such as tornadoes and flash floods, the official EAS is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to the United States within 10 minutes, but the nationwide federal EAS has never been activated. The EAS regulations and standards are governed by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC. Each state and several territories have their own EAS plan. EAS has become part of IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, a program of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). EAS is jointly coordinated by FEMA, the FCC, and the National Weather Service.
So next week for two minutes the airwaves of America (which are broadcast by satellite around the planet) there will be a two-minute alert where the president or at least the White House will interrupt the day for 2 minutes to prove that in the case of the a national emergency you could hear the President – it would just be text and a voice over – no pictures … maybe the lowest common denominator isn’t the best way to go but all radio and TV will be part of the test.
How will you business handle this – are you forewarning people that this test is coming up … At MBFoster we have a webinar scheduled for November 9 at 2pm … it will be about Automating Windows Processes (using MBF Scheduler) … it won’t be a test – it will be the real thing J complete with demonstration … it will take 45 minutes but during the first 2 minutes we will see what the world reaction to the of the EAS is and then carry on from there.
October 31, 2011
After one strike away, to return another day
Here in Texas we're learning that there's no crying in baseball, except for in the World Series. Our Texas Rangers were only one strike away from winning the world championship -- not once but twice -- but we saw our heroes of 50 years' efforts fall out of the trophy column. A final effort at that strike (above) let the St. Louis Cardinals bang out a hit to erase a "Roy Hobbs homer" from Josh Hamilton that might have won that Series. It was a Series so epic that it sparked TV ratings unmatched since the Red Sox won their first title in 86 years. The penultimate loss in that Game 6 took 11 innings to complete. A 7 PM game ended nearly at midnight.
It builds character to continue to love something that falls short of ultimate success often. In the computer markets this kind of product gets shuttled to the museum instead of trotted out for another sales cycle. Success gets determined by business managers who can always go about building a new team of products. In baseball, the losing players lace up cleats and swing the bats again after a requeim for the death of this year's dream. Heartrates at my house got worn out Thursday night, the game nearly won when those two almost-champion moments came, and then went. This is the second straight year Texas has lost the Series. It's been nearly 20 years since a baseball team lost consequetive World Series. We will see what becomes of the Rangers in about 22 weeks, when a fresh season dawns. They're already calling this Series historic.
In your community of 3000 users, today is an important day in your history. Eight years ago this afternoon, the last official sale of a new HP 3000 was accepted by Hewlett-Packard. In memory of that milestone, thousands of community members, industry icons and gurus, and HP engineers and managers threw local parties to mourn and remember the glory of a great HP product. The computer continued to be a product for years afterward, but not a product which HP built new any longer.
ScreenJet's Alan Yeo organized, through inspiration and outreach, what was called the World Wide Wake. As a celebration of a passing, the day was a success that might rouse the dead. As a predictor of the obituary of the HP 3000, the images of glasses hoisted and gallows pictures, the event was something else. It served as another marker of the slower timeframe that a computer known as a mainframe can employ for a lifespan.
We've created a Flickr photostream from the Wake pictures that were sent to Yeo's website back in 2003. He was kind enough to leave these memories in our keeping. They represent that one last strike that the computer failed to get on HP. But like those Rangers, there's always next year to buy new HP 3000 hardware. An emulator has given the HP 3000 a set of new seasons for many years to come.Virtualized hardware took more than eight years to arrive in this marketplace, but it will deliver for many more years to replace the 3000s HP no longer builds or sells. There's not an obvious baseball comparison to what a virtualizer does, but maybe a rejuvenation of a late-game pitching staff, or a robust farm team system to grow new talents, will suffice. As a Rangers fan I expect to see both next year, just as I expect to see HP 3000s grown from fast and cheap PC hardware from Stromasys.
It's past closing time in Europe and the East of the US, even very dark in the 3000's heartland of California Across the International Date Line in Bangalore, India, where a few HP lab engineers toiled until the end of 2008, it's already Nov. 1. All Saints Day, we used to call the date back when I was a boy in Catholic school. Some community members probably think the 3000's survival in any number through 2011 is a miracle.
There are many saints who could claim some credit for the survival of 10,000 to 20,000 HP 3000s. There are also many systems that have been switched off, scrapped or dropped into deep storage over those eight years. The HP 3000 system populace could only decline from its census numbers of 2003. However, it's easy to assert that more 3000s will be running after today — and into the Tenth Anniversary of The Afterlife — than Hewlett-Packard or its partners ever could predict.
A good share of the populace is running because migration was no two-year matter, or even four-year project at some sites. In these companies the HP 3000 is earmarked for a decommission, sometime in the future, near or far. The Afterlife is a land which is rich in the unknown. We cannot know for certain who's still running, who's making migration progress, and who has put their IT futures in limbo. For some customers, they live in the Afterlife because there's no place else to go.
Until now, when an emulator will give a new option to the companies who need to put the same proven players of MPE and IMAGE on the field. It's good to congratulate Unix and Windows on a victory over HP's executive strike zone, so very small in 2001. While the neighborhood kids' voices echo through my open windows tonight in Texas, however, I hear an echo of heritage and tradition of trick-or-treating for sweets. A new future is not right for everybody. This October, the 3000 homesteader can say of new systems the same thing us Rangers fans say in hope: "We'll get 'em next year."
October 28, 2011
Emulator query sparks private volume tip
In an example of the newest HP 3000 technology linking to one of the server's oldest, one question about a 2012 product unearthed advice about a feature introducted in 1978. Next year's HPA/3000 emulator received some upgrades to its SCSI periperals support this week, according to the product's vendor Stromasys. These improvements will make it possible to better answer a question about private MPE/iX volumes, and how well HPA/3000 can handle them.
Craig Lalley, working with Stromasys on the MPE/iX aspects of HPA/3000, said he hasn't tested private volumes yet, "due to an issue with the SCSI interface. But I intend to." At the same time, a question about private volumes' use in the current era prompted some advice from Applied Technologies' Brian Edminster -- who had to miss the Reunion briefing on HPA/3000 due to pressing work to open up the new MPE open source website, MPE-OpenSource.org. (You can track updates to the project through its RSS feed, which can be viewed in Google's RSS Reader, among others.)
The first package Edminster added to site was SFTP quick-start, a bundle "which aims to make installing SFTP easier on MPE/iX systems. It is a std file which includes all the components necessary to install and configure sftp, scp, and keygen under MPE/iX, with links to instructions for the installation process."
Edminster is well-versed in the non-open-source tools for the HP 3000 as well. When Dave Powell of MMFab asked during a HPA/3000 discussion if anyone was even using private volumes on an A400 Class of server, Edminster advised that the 3000 sites where he administers or consults are employing this bedrock MPE tool -- one first introduced 34 years ago in MPE III, on the Series III.
Data volume protection has always been at the heart of MPE's private volumes.
I've always considered it a best practice to divide your disk storage up into several Private Volumes. Why? When a non-mirrored spindle in a PV dies, it only takes that PV out with it -- allowing the rest of the machine to keep running (unless the PV is the mpe_system_volume_set, in which case you're going to be doing a system install). If it's only one of the data volumes that goes down, the 'system' is still up, greatly facilitating recovery.
If you can't afford arrays that protect the 'system' volume-set, at least you can get something (even if it's only HP's subsystem software Mirror/iX for RAID-1) to protect the data volumes. And if you configure it properly, RAID-1 is wicked-fast on reads, and pretty decent on writes.
Oh, and to answer your original question: Yes, A400s can be set up this way. At least, the ones I administer are set up this way. The drives inside the CPU chassis are set up as "system volume set," and an external mirrored array is the "data' volume.
Works great. If the system volume goes down, data isn't likely affected. If a mirrored drive fails, just swap it for a replacement. This has gotten my client near 100 percent up-time for this system, for almost 10 years now.
October 26, 2011
HP, Connect to thump Unix drum soon, later
HP's Unix customers, or prospects for the HP-UX and enterprise solutions, are getting a couple of educational opportunities this week and next. The first makes a case for Unix retaining a lead spot in IT choices. The second introduces HP experts on power, cooling, and what you should know before moving to the cloud.
The settings couldn't be more different, a testament to the reach HP's enterprise arm is stretching. Tomorrow is a webinar "showing results from Gabriel Consulting Group's Unix preference study. Dan Olds from Gabriel will join," plus a HP speaker to present HP-UX specific results and commentary. "Come hear why users think Unix is still highly relevant and strategic for mission-critical workloads." You'll be coming to your browser, but you can sign up online for tomorrow's event.
In a couple of weeks HP takes its cloud-enterprise show into downtown Austin, at Sullivan's Steakhouse for a luncheon and talk about big-system product opportunities. Nov. 9 is lunchtime for HP's David Chetham-Strode, HP's product Manager for Data Center Power Solutions, and "cloud expert Clyde Poole, Chief Security Officer and Director of Professional Services with TDi Technologies. You can sign up for a lunch spot with Connect, which is sponsoring the HP event.The briefings are the equivalent of attending a user conference keynote or session, but they're free. HP promises that Chetham-Strode will provide an insight into optimizing and adapting energy use, reclaiming capacity, and reducing energy costs. In this session HP’s latest advances in power protection, distribution, and cooling will be discussed and you will see how these new solutions save operational costs help extend the life of the data center.
You can save a spot for that steak lunch at the Connect website. HP said the Poole will tell you what to "learn what to ask yourself and your Cloud vendor before you sign a contract. This interactive session will define the cloud environment and then present some of these questions, along with what you should expect as answers from your vendors. Challenges Addressed: Compliance, Data Protection and Security Threats.
October 21, 2011
Rare MPE admin gem glitters to lift careers
There's not much HP 3000 instruction and education that's still available in published book status. The IMAGE Handbook appeared in the 1980s; there was even a TurboIMAGE Handbook printed by Beechglen's Mike Hornsby, about the same time the market started to see printed anthologies of technical papers from VEsoft's engineers and alllies. Beyond PA-RISC offered a groundbreaking look at the 3000's architecture in 1987. HP engineer Mike Yawn led the publishing of The Legacy Continues, a 1997 book about developing with the 3000 alongside Windows NT and HP-UX. But six months before the end of HP's futures for the server, the first and only specialized and comprehensive book emerged about managing MPE/iX. Jon Diercks wrote the MPE/iX System Administration Handbook and it was published by Prentice Hall in 2001. It's nearly out of print by now; new copies are running at $200 at Amazon.com and used ones at $80.
But this book is still for sale in one way or another. Diercks even brought a few copies to the recent HP3000 Reunion. Author copies, as the publishers call them, and a signed one was given away as a door prize for attendees. Diercks said he sold a couple more to users on both ends of the MPE experience spectrum.
I was pleased that the buyers were at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was an HP veteran who was responsible for the care and feeding of the MPE spooler for many years. I pre-emptively apologized for any inaccuracies, especially in the spooler chapter. He graciously assured me that he was confident I must have been faithful in my rendering of the material, and he was looking forward to reading the whole thing.
The other copy was picked up by a bona fide newbie, a young guy who had shared a table with me during the dinner and is picking up HP 3000 skills for the first time as part of a job that he just started. I was delighted to know that even 10 years later, the book still has new readers who want it not for nostalgia, but precisely for its original purpose. The price was personally negotiated for each sale. I believe the book has great value, but I didn't want price to be a barrier, not at that event, and not among this close-knit community.
There's another way to read the book: subscribe to Safari, the online reader service that gives you access to technical books for $27 monthly for 10 titles you can stock onto a virtual shelf. It's even got a free trial offer to let the technical pro see if the service is right for them.
Safari is a way to keep something in book format forever, simply by making it a digital title which O'Reilly Media and the Pearson Technology Group stewards on a set of servers. The greatest advantage to having a book sold or rented in digital format is that is never has a reason to go out of print. It's something like the HP 3000 PA-RISC architecture never going offline any longer -- because a virtualization of the chipset is being offered, based in software.
Once HP cast its doubts upon the future of the HP 3000, HP 3000 Evolution was printed, sold and distributed by Robelle. It's probably the very latest dated paper book about HP 3000, with articles written by community leaders, included from the NewsWire, or revised for an era of migration and homesteading. (That Robelle Evolution link includes an impressive array of technical articles and papers from the community, as do others from Allegro, Adager and others.)
Diercks has his own website where he offers his consulting services as well as code samples from the book. Code samples have actually always been available for free on at diercks.net/mpe/code. And it's a good bet that with the right offer, you might be able to buy one of his remaining paper copies for less than $80. But what's more important is how much lifespan this technical resource deserves and the good work which it still has in front of it.
As for Safari, an all-you-want level of subscription even includes something called Rough Cuts, which lets subscribers "read drafts of pre-published manuscripts online. Interact with authors as they write about the newest technologies."
Safari, Google Books and other e-book avenues are good means to keep technical expertise available throughout the lifespan of any enterprise server -- at least those rich enough to have books published about them. Brian Edminster, who noted those prices on the Diercks book as well as the Safari link, said that offering a tech title on an open license can help future-proof these published techniques.
"The only thing better would be to someday -- perhaps when Safari chooses not to carry it anymore -- release it as an e-book under an appropriate Creative Commons license. This is kind of like what Greg Lehey did with Porting Unix Software, which is why I'm able to host it on www.MPE-OpenSource.org. That's the license that enables another to update a book (or customized it for a specific platform) as long as the end-results aren't used for commercial gain. I'd still buy another copy of either book in 'dead-tree' format though.
October 12, 2011
What’s It All About, Posix?
By Brian Edminster
Editor's Note: The origins of HP 3000 Posix go back to 1992, when it arrived as part of MPE. Posix was HP’s first effort at making MPE more standards-friendly. The engineering led to the potential for open source programs such as Samba, Apache and more to make it across the porting divide — and give the systems their first genuine cross-platform tools. The Posix work in MPE made GNU C for the 3000 a possibility, back in the nascent era of the open source movement. Brian Edminster, who's establishing a repository for open source HP 3000 tools, explains what Posix means to the 3000 administrator and owner nearly 20 years later.
It’s really pretty simple. Posix is an attempt to create common ground – to facilitate creating portable software. It consists of file-system, shell, and programmatic interface specifications to the underlying system (Un*x or not!).
Posix standards came about because it was getting more and more difficult to write software portable across the various Un*x flavors – as each vendor created more and more proprietary ‘features’ into their Un*x OS variant. And invariably, the features – usually added in order to give that particular version of Un*x a competitive advantage, made the systems just a little bit more incompatible. This might be by making certain functionality easier to implement on their platform, or to make administration easier, or just to improve performance.
The downside of all this, is that the various Un*x variants were slowly diverging – even though they might well conform the the ‘Unix’ system standard. It was also recognized that it was becoming more and more difficult to create software that is portable accross systems. Something needed to be done, and IEEE came to the rescue.
Rather than enforce complete uniformity accross various Un*x variants, the Posix working group defined a series of what are essentially ‘lowest common denominator’ standards for various parts of a system (file-system, shell, api’s, and so forth) that wished to be labeled Posix Compliant. By using these constructs, it became much easier to write software that is out-of-the-box portable. That is, the software will compile with little or no changes when moved between platforms that have the requisite Posix environment and compilers.
The real boon to Posix, however: it is possible to make software originally developed for the Un*x environment available on any platform with a sufficiently complete Posix environment. Several excellent examples of this are MPE/iX, Mac OS X, z/OS, and some more recent Server editions of Microsoft Windows. There’s even a non-server Posix implementation for desktop editions of Windows called Cygwin – that makes much Un*x style portable software available for desktops as well.
So what does all of this buy? In effect, a very large pool of software that might be usable to solve problems that might have been prohibitively expensive to address via the traditional route of proprietary and/or custom developed software.
More importantly – since Posix was added to MPE (that is – when MPE/XL became MPE/iX), it too received the same benefits of improved portability and broader base of developers that other Posix systems enjoy. Porting efforts to bring open source software to the 3000 have come from both individuals (i.e. The GNU GCC Toolchain – bringing both C and C++ and related development tools to MPE/iX, plus: BIND, PostgreSQL, Perl, OpenSSH, and a broad host of smaller tools and utilities) as well as efforts from inside HP (Apache/iX, OpenSSL, Samba/iX, and SendMail – all of which became part of the FOS and/or available via patches).
The Posix filesystem was even used to enhance the TurboIMAGE/XL database system to allow ‘Jumbo’ datasets, spawning TurboIMAGE/iX. By allowing the ‘container’ files that carry datasets contents to be broken into file ‘chunks’ that exist in the Posix filespace – capacities far beyond what the ‘native’ filesystem could accomodate are now possible.
A secondary benefit is that most portable software is written to industry standards, using tools common across platforms. In short, it potentially makes it much easier for your MPE/iX based system to ‘play nice’ with other systems. By using this type of software, your systems will be more likely able to ‘inter-operate’ with the rest of your enterprise, and the world at large. By now having tools available that are common to the Un*x space (various shells, plus a plethora of command-line tools, utilities, and scripting languages), it’s easier to find fresh technical talent to assist with development and system administration tasks.
So, there are some interesting quirks that a Un*x admin or developer will need to know how to deal with when working on a MPE/iX system – but we’ll cover some of those, as well as some useful tips and tricks to make the best of both the MPE and Posix worlds, in later articles.
October 11, 2011
Webinar examines 3000 sites' plans for 2012
MB Foster is putting together a 45-minute briefing, including time to pose questions, for planning 2012 IT projects. The "Planning for 2012" training session is scheduled for 2PM Eastern US time Wednesday (October 12). Signup is at the MB Foster website. Participants will be able to ask questions and discuss data management strategies and plans.
The company's CEO Birket Foster says the webinar is based upon the "big plans" his company has discussed with some customers.
Some of them are related to the synchronization of data between applications, Business Intelligence (BI) and dashboarding. In fact, we have even seen some substantial RFP requests for solutions that match this requirement.
In other areas, clients are looking to unplug legacy systems through decommissioning -- but quickly realized that there are processes that need to be followed for compliance, and where data needs to be available for warranty tracking, or sales tax audits.
The scope of the webinar series this year from MB Foster has been broad. The latest seminar looks at dashboarding as well as putting HP 3000s to rest. These are topics that can be related, since dashboarding is a concept built around improving data reporting for an entire enterprise, regardless of platform.You won't hear much discussion about dashboarding among classic 3000 managers, but it's had management fans for as long as BI has been crucial to enterprise planning. BI is one of the top 10 strategic technologies companies are investing in for 2012, according to reports from agencies such as Gartner.
Dashboarding is essential to growing a business in a smart way. People are realizing that if they could be planning more proactively, doing reporting and getting to a "single version of the truth," they could stay on top of their business better.
One business consultant, Benny Austin, has posted a superior checklist to evaluate what the four types of user groups need from dashboarding tools.
• Information Consumers: The decision makers who drive change management strategies based on the information presented. (In certain cases Information Consumers could be the general public.)
• Power Users: Those who build and publish dashboards.
• Developers: Those who build and maintain the information sources for dashboards.
• Administrators: Those who manage and regulate the hardware, software and application infrastructure.
October 06, 2011
Why Your Life's Work Deserves Praise
The news wires are full of praise and remembrances of Steve Jobs today, the first working morning since he passed away. Billions of people never used Apple products, however. Some swear they never will, just because they don't want to get sucked into Apple's sparkly universe.
But as a computer professional, you might consider how admired and revered your skills were by Jobs and his company. A 90-second video on YouTube shows an interview of a boyish Steve Jobs who is explaining why the computer is the greatest tool ever created by mankind. Because, he says, it's the bicycle for our minds. That's a sentiment that goes a long way in the NewsWire offices, considering how much time we're in the saddle to stay fit, or to help fundraise for surivors of cancer, or AIDS.
Jobs was also plainspoken about stealing to create great products. The HP 3000's MPE bedrock was mined out of the Burroughs operating system, something that Allegro's Stan Sieler likes to remind us. Windows, of course, came straight off the Mac and now represents the most popular migration platform for 3000 owners.
In another YouTube interview Jobs admits how theft propelled Apple. But he also reminds us that it's thievery with a heritage of beauty. "It comes down to exposing yourself to the best things that humans have done -- and then trying to bring those things into what you're doing," he said. If you ever felt like your developments for this "bicycle of the mind" should be considered as art, the "Good artists copy" 30-second interview is worth a look, too.
This morning, here in the offices where we're peeking into our 17th year of publication of the NewsWire, we're teary eyed. We've lost a genius on the level of Edison or Disney -- the latter especially so, considering that Steve Jobs died as the largest shareholder of Disney. But honor the memory of one who always allowed that death was the greatest change agent of all, because it sweeps away and clears room for something newer. His passing is a day of mourning for us, because from the earliest days of our publishing careers, Apple products have been our greatest tools. Thanks to people like yourselves, they are our swift and stylish bicycles of the mind.
September 20, 2011
Invent-ing a value of $99 for MPE tools, help
A cruise by the OpenMPE Invent3K server, as well as the openmpe.com website, shows that director Keith Wadsworth has resigned -- quietly and with the assent and good wishes of the remaining board. This leaves five directors volunteering for a group that negotiated the release of MPE source code during 2002-08.
As we suggested earlier this year, that Invent3K server's now become the focus of this group. Its chairman Jack Connor says that "We're in the process of regrouping and gathering our focus. Right now, making Invent3K a repository for the community is the primary focus." The group is thinking that "$99 a year to maintain access to all the 3000 tools is not too much a burden for the benefit."
That might be true. A $99 price target for MPE/iX development accounts, existing on the same 3000 server as CSL and Jazz programs, is a good goal. A yearly subscription of $99 is not simple to sell in 2011. That $99 sub wasn't easy for us in 1996, when the 3000 Newswire was growing up. We figured subscriptions would be the biggest revenue stream for our newsletter. But sponsors made this resource a reality, along with the readers who we still count upon today.
Our advice here -- to remaining board members Connor, Tracy Johnson, Birket Foster, Alan Tibbetts, and Tony Tibbenham -- is to do a complete inventory of the software they have to offer, and then put the list up on a webpage. It seems they'll need to do a listing of which CSL programs they've got, too. Maybe a complete tour of using the Invent3K development account services -- why not do a YouTube mini-tour?
Yes, it is heavy lifting to highlight all that Invent3K has to offer. Today, the Invent3K webpage says the server "is for the use of member accounts to compile and test their own programs. It is NOT for the downloading of HP SUBSYS material, that is why FTP, DSLINE, PCLINK2, and WS92LINK are locked down."
HP is not making it easier to find documentation on the HP 3000 hardware. So documentation is another area where access to Invent3K might offer value. There are limits there, like HP's restraint of documentation until 2015, or sooner. Client Systems and Speedware have signed on to distribute those docs for free, now that HP's cut down on manuals. But ManualShark.com and other places post HP docs that the vendor doesn't even serve up any longer. Plus, finding what you need in the new HP Support Center website is not simple, by now.That last item, the CSLs, is the most unique value out there. People could pay $99 a year to see five of those listings show up in their email each month, complete with downloadable links -- along with a running guide about what else is on the Invent3K server.
And if that sounds like a part-time job, well it probably is. For a volunteer. So maybe the first step is to advertise for an archivist-historian kind of unpaid intern on Craigslist. They don't even really have to be a current 3000 customer. This weekend we're going to host a healthy swath of 3000 veterans who are retired. Some miss the contact with the server's community. That's why they're spending some of weekend at the HP3000 Reunion.
As for the OpenMPE board, it's just five directors now, and that's the right size for a volunteer board anyway. They get a quorum with three, and a proposal passes with that many votes. Keeping the OpenMPE of 2011 a managable size with small kai-zen goal and rewards looks like a good plan for the near term.
In the future, another HP operating environment is going to need advocacy and a rally point. You probably know which one we think is closest to this ecosystem change. Maybe the best thing that OpenMPE can offer is some kind of downscaled template on how this can be done without a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
September 14, 2011
Where to Get Your OpenSSH Starter Kit, Free
Brian Edminster has been making open source tools an avocation while he's consulted for HP 3000 shops. His consistent message is that these programs can make a difference in keeping an MPE/iX system current and vital. He's been working on a repository of such programs for quite awhile.
Now Edminster is offering a starter kit as an introduction to the SSL/SSH security tools and Secure FTP (SFTP) which companies like Rodale Press need for their 3000s.
I have an ''OpenSSH quick-start kit'' -- which is essentially all the bits and pieces necessary to install OpenSSH -- in a 'store-to-disk' file, and I can make it available to anyone that needs it. I've got a 'Reflection Labels' format version, a 'binary' version, and I'm working on getting something that'll work with Minisoft's terminal emulator as well -- all to make it easier to transfer from 'here to there' (where 'there' is the target 3000).
Between that store-to-disk file, and the existing instructions on Beechglen's site, any site that wants to install SFTP on their 3000 has just about all they need (my quick-start kit eliminates the first several steps -- just restore the contents and pick up at Step 3). Let people know that I can email the 'quick-start' kit to them, but there's a catch: it's approx 70Mb. Many email systems can't handle that.
And so comes the need for Edminster's repository. We hope to have more on that later on this month. Meanwhile, you can email him with your request for that quick-start.
Migration partnering webinar airs today
MB Foster has spent every other Wednesday teaching the principles of HP 3000 data management, best practices which customers are still using to structure their IT transitions. At a webinar this spring, one attendee said his company has been talking about migrating from the 3000 "ever since I've been here, 13 years," he said. "From our standpoint, the first decision that has to be made is, 'What platform?' "
Today the company is taking a new approach to the subject by focusing on partnerships in migrations. In this webinar they'll outline partnering skills, strategies for organizations thinking of migrating legacy applications and best practices for major components of a legacy or data migration project.
The webinar is today at 11:00 AM Pacific/2:00 PM Eastern. You can register for the event at the MB Foster website.
August 30, 2011
HP3000 Reunion opens ticket sales online
Reaching for a different kind of user group experience, the HP3000 Reunion is opening up "ticket sales," instead of registrations, starting today. The Saturday night party on Sept. 24 is $49, with sales of the tickets available through a portal on the HP3000Reunion.com website. Credit cards and PayPal are the means to pay, unless attendees want to bring cash to the door.
(To be clear, the NewsWire is handling these PayPal transactions and passing them along to pay the bills in mounting a party and meeting. But like everyone who's involved in making this Reunion weekend happen, there's not a penny of profit in it. Quite the opposite, but that's the reward of being a volunteer and booster.)
The party's menu is online, alongside the "Add to Cart" button on the website. There's even a "Bay Area Unemployed" price to help out people who want to attend but are on a budget. That's a $25 ticket. Keep in mind that either ticket includes access to the Computer History Museum, where admissions are $15 per person.
We're staying updated on the latest to fill out a schedule of events over the weekend, but we're certain the Saturday party is 5-10 PM, with supper service and the sparking wine toasts between 5:30 and 9:30. But the CAMUS group is already assembling a good overview of the Thursday-Saturday scheduled events. An FAQ is due out soon.
The Reunion begins with a Thursday event, the Eloquence User Group conference, open to all at the Museum. Friday is set aside for the Migration Training Day plus the briefing and Q&A with the HP 3000 emulator creators Stromasys. Click on the graphic above for a full-size agenda, still in development and created by Terri Glendon Lanza of the CAMUS user group. The leaders of CAMUS are revved up about the prospect of an emulator keeping the MANMAN sites in production for years to come. They note that the Charon DEC emulator from Stromasys has been powering MANMAN Digital sites for several years by now with great success.
August 29, 2011
HP shakes up its PR, sees its stock rise
An item at the Good Morning Silicon Valley website today notes that HP’s PR leadership has been, um, adjusted. Its chief communications officer has been reassigned and the PR team shuffled, according to Bloomberg, in the wake of a massive stock sell-off that drove the company's shares into the low $20s. The new PR leader is Bill Wohl, who worked with Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker at SAP. Wohl joined HP in January.
HP is facing many challenges as it seeks to shift its focus away from consumer hardware and toward enterprise software and services. Brandon Bailey of the Mercury News pointed out over the weekend that HP’s PC business, which it wants to unload, supports other important segments of the company. In addition, the tech giant’s other divisions are dealing with growth issues.
All of this is important to the HP 3000 owner who's sticking with Hewlett-Packard in a transition. HP's stock is dangerously low-priced at the moment, considering how profitable the company remains. It all has to do with a price/earnings ratio, and on Aug. 19 HP's was just 5.2. That number needs to be higher. Low share price and high profits can indicate a ripe takeover target, as unthinkable as that might seem.
In a story passed along by HP 3000 open source expert Brian Edminster, a Wall Street Journal columnist outlines a one-year plan to kill HP -- from the inside. (Until Sept. 5, you can read it for free online.) The column includes a summary of the last 12 months of HP missteps that's accurate but somewhat wrong-headed, because the Al Lewis article insists that Mark Hurd was running HP well during 2010.
From former CEO Carly Fiorina's spectacular flame-out, and former chairwoman Patricia Dunn's illegal spying scandal, to Mr. Hurd's alleged sex scandal that apparently didn't involve any sex at all, this sort of dysfunction has become "the HP Way." It has been a year since HP fired Mr. Hurd. Jack Kevorkian couldn't have devised a better plan for euthanizing a company. But like the good doctor used to say: "Dying is not a crime."
HP's shares almost made it to $26 today. In the 10 days since the sell-off, it's managed a recovery of about half of the 20 percent it coughed up overnight on its no-TouchPad, PC division spinoff news. You have to go out into 2009 to find the shares as cheap as $26, and HP wasn't stumbling over a tablet or spinning out anything in March of that year. Perhaps a better spin on HP's changes can reassure investors and analysts.
August 23, 2011
Zipping Files on Today's HP 3000s
Although the code for compressing files on HP 3000s is more than a decade old, like a lot of things on the system, it continues to work as expected. A customer recently asked how to Zip and Unzip files to move things between the HP 3000 and other servers.
Tracy Johnson, who manages the Invent3K server operated by OpenMPE, noted he's using the MPE/iX Posix shell's compress and uncompress. "It creates a file that ends in capital Z. Seems the compressed format is compatible with both GNU-zip and Winzip programs or any other *nix machine."
Lars Appel, who ported the Samba file sharing tool to MPE, offers a comprehensive answer. He points to software that resides on his own development server, open to the public.
You can pick up the InfoIP zip/unzip programs (in a tar file) at www.editcorp.com/personal/lars_appel/WebKit2 The link in that webpage that contains the zip/unzip programs is
Transfer it to the 3000 in bytestream or (fixed) binary format and then unpack with :/bin/tar "-xvzopf FILENAME". Place the two programs where you like; I typically have them in /usr/local/bin or (with uppercase filename) in a group or directory that is part of my HPPATH settings.
The web page also contains a tar.Z file with /usr/local/bin/gzip
(gzip -d decompresses; creating a symbolic link gunzip is also useful)
August 22, 2011
That Hitler meme enters HP's history
The outcry and public lashing over HP's stock and its tech choices has been scorching over the last three days. After the company yanked the futures out from under the TouchPad and WebOS (the former is dead, the latter is looking for somewhere to recoup HP's $1.2 billion Palm buyout), HP sold off its own tablet stock on the Web this weekend at $99 a TouchPad. Sold them quickly, too.
But just as quickly, the Hitler-Tech-Ranting meme made an entry into HP's modern history. A great foreign film which won an Oscar, Downfall, has been used as a satire seedbed for so many technical mistakes and missteps like the one HP's committed. The crisis scene in the Berlin bunker, late in the movie, is swiped by tech world commentators and hijacked with fresh subtitles.
HP has now gotten the same treatment as Apple (for its iPad naming, and the iPhone Antennagate), Google (for the demise of Buzz and Wave) and other high fliers. This latest version (unsanctioned by either the filmmakers, or HP) includes a reference to Stalin using an iPad, plus some ominous cheer at the end about how Hitler still believes HP still makes the best PCs. HP is looking at every option for the future of its PC business, including "the potential of a non-transaction," according to CEO Leo Apothker. It's a mystery how any tech leader can announce its PC business might be for sale, and then not sell it.
YouTube has been diligent about yanking these off the Web, in due time. The Downfall clip has been used for everything from burger chain kids getting fired, to Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson's breakup, to Michael Jackson's death. (Largely because of the great acting; check out the film to see a fabulous performance by Bruno Ganz.) See the TouchPad version while you can, unless you feel nothing about Hitler could be funny in the least. Nobody can be blamed for holding that belief -- or that HP's got little future selling anything other than enterprise computers and their software, HP services, and its printers. Gone are the days of HP flatscreen TVs.
Investors are returning to the stock this morning, which is almost up to $25 with more than 20 million shares traded during the first hour. 128 million shares traded on Friday.
August 16, 2011
Where to Go for the Manuals You Know
Hewlett-Packard was proud of putting out information digitally in 1988. By 2011, it takes some hunting and revising of browser bookmarks to keep track of HP 3000 documentation. The docs.hp.com website, well-known by the community, became www.hp.com/go/e3000-docs at HP two summers ago. (And that address redirects to an even longer URL today.)
Two years ago, HP licensed the 3000's documentation to Client Systems and Speedware for re-hosting. But Speedware's director Chris Koppe said during the 2009 Community Meet that HP won't permit these partners to host the manuals for public access until HP clears the materials from embargo. HP said at that meeting it will host the documentation through 2015. That is, if you can find it; HP's support website has been in a "pardon our dust" state since June.
While it negotiated for an "open" future of MPE, the community was adamant about the HP 3000 documentation flowing into third-party hands. The two companies above have a full set of manuals ready to host, and it's a good thing -- because the 3000 server manuals appear to have vanished from HP's web archives. Search for "HP 3000" at the above address and you'll get a long list of 3000 server links. Every link reports "There are no technical support documents for this product relating to manuals, guides, supplements, addendums, etc." (Tip of the hat to Donna Hoffmeister, former OpenMPE director, for the heads-up about disappearing 3000 documents.)
While those browser interfaces (above) still link up fine for MPE/iX 6.x and 7.x software, the elusive hardware manuals almost make you wish for the days of CDs -- when Hewlett-Packard boasted of "Delivering Information at the Speed of Light" with HP LaserROM. Those faster-than-ever deliveries couldn't disappear so easily. Today it takes ManualShark.com and the parisc-linux.org to shed light on the hardware docs.In 1999, HP was making its next step toward the manuals you couldn't touch in paper format or some kind of CD plastic. Over the past few years these paper manuals have been offered for free by managers who're leaving 3000 administration. The stacks of HP-blue binders used space inefficiently, but their physical format made them hard to lose. In '99, customers who received documentation updates on HP LaserROM for MPE/iX began to receive HP’s then-new Instant Information automatically.
Andreas Schmidt, the system manager for a CSC 3000 shop in Europe, reported in 1999 that the MPE/iX 5.5 and 6.0 set of docs were the first available under Instant Information. He added that sharing these documents using Samba/iX made them even more valuable.
Using HP Instant Information, you can look at a book’s table of contents or index and, with a mouse click, jump to a specific topic. You can search multiple manuals and documents quickly for matching keywords. Users no longer have to rely on paper manuals, although some still prefer paper in their hands!
With the new browser, you can view both document text and the table of contents in the same window. You will find an improved collection structure, now based on specific products (such as NS3000/iX) rather than on hardware platforms, the base used by HP LaserROM bookshelves.
Managers and support experts who complain today about documentation may seem like manual wonks, fixated on knowledge that's more arcane with each day. However, the business world still includes companies where a 15-year-old server is working in production, while others are being prepared to take its place. (Or not, for the most ardent of homesteaders.)
LaserROM seemed like magic in the late 1980s when I first saw it demonstrated. It didn't come cheaply; HP was charging $1,800 per year for the same information anyone can receive for free via PDF and browser today. Of course, 1988 was a year without an Internet, when HP DeskManager, Compuserve, or elm Unix mail were the prominent business server mail methods. HP LaserROM made you install a CD-ROM reader (more magic!) into a PC, load Windows software and then slip the nouveau discs into the reader, one subject at a time. The full set of HP-UX discs numbered more than 70.
HP called the information "available online" at the time. 11 years later, Instant Information took LaserROM away from the proprietary HP Tag format to an industry standard at that time, SMGL. This move gave the information a way to live beyond HP's stewardship. By 1999 it was obvious that the easiest place for customers to find manuals was on what we were calling the World Wide Web.
The release of HP Instant Information represents the critical first step of converting all necessary documents. With 6.0 many documents will also be available on the world wide web: http:/www.docs.hp.com. These new delivery media will dramatically change the way our learning community accesses technical information.
What's changed today is the ability to locate hardware references for HP's MPE/iX hardware systems. Manualshark.com is doing a fair job of finding hardware manuals, and the parisc-linux.org site has an FTP service that still knows how to deliver the Series 9x9 manuals. Docs for the N-Class systems that first shipped in 2001 have been more elusive than A400 and A500 servers, also known as HP9000 rp2400s at HP. Those ultimate-generation A-Class HP3000 servers have a listing at manualshark.com.
August 01, 2011
Online community grows to 350 members
LinkedIn, the Facebook for career professionals, has logged its 350th member in the HP 3000 Community group this week. The last 90 days have seen a remarkable uptick in membership; more than 15 percent growth has propelled this social business website since the beginning of May.
It's not easy to say why there's a surge of members joining the group right now. HP has dropped off the radar of most HP3000 issues and activities. The robust 3000-L mailing list still boasts more than 600 members, and its content is pointed closely at technical issues and repairs for 3000 faults, often contributed for free by consultants who charge at rates that start at $35 an hour.
But LinkedIn is different in a very significant way. Joining the site (basic membership is free) helps you network, gives you easy, direct communication with members, and best of all, is a way to get your work experience and resumes into play. Your members include owners and managers of some of the most established support and consulting firms. Just this weekend VP Stan Sieler of Allegro joined the ranks. Steve Suraci of Pivital solutions has long been a member. There is also a subgroup of the HP 3000 Community, HP 3000 Jobs.News from the 3000 Newswire, the HP3000 Reunion and other sources are a regular part of the LinkedIn feed. You can learn from discussions about topics, or search for specific skill sets. One member, Ron P., is keeping the 3000 applications working at Estee Lauder. Mike Anderson, leader of the CAMUS ERP user group, just joined. For historic perspectives, Interex founder Doug Meacham is on the rolls.
The list of newly-joined community experts is long: Tracy Johnson, curator of the OpenMPE resources; President David Floyd of the Support Group. Consultants Brett Forsyth, Roy Brown, and Chuck Trites. Doug Greenup of Minisoft. Some, like Birket Foster of MB Foster, have hundreds of connections, ways to make your network grow and add opportunity to your career.
There's nothing to replace the 3000-L mailing list's technical focus. But an email-based community just cannot do all the things a social networking site can accomplish. Even if you don't Facebook or Twitter (and you should), LinkedIn is worth your time and your regular visits.
July 25, 2011
They Call It NoSQL for a Reason
Facebook and companies who gather massive data off Web interfaces are leading the movement to NoSQL databases. These are data repositories which migrating HP 3000 sites might be hearing about as they look for a replacement for IMAGE in a new environment. Brian Edminster, the open source expert who is helping 3000 sites employ such solutions, explains that NoSQL has some things in common with IMAGE.
They're basically databases that are no-frills, high performance, can handle very large volumes of data, and are generally not SQL-compliant in one way or another. They're more aimed at data capture (usually from websites), or high speed retrieval for shared reads (again, often serving data on the Web). While most can do concurrent read/write to the same pool of data across many users (rather like IMAGE, or even KSAM), unlike IMAGE, they're really not designed to be used effectively for complex highly concurrent transaction processing database applications.
SQL has been something of a common aspect in specifying databases, so the NoSQL entries are creating a new category of database. Even IMAGE gained a SQL interface by the middle 1990s. Databases like Cassandra, CouchDB, MongoDB, Redis, Riak, Neo4J, and FlockDB have broken away from the Cadillac budget (Oracle), Windows acolytes (SQL Server) or under-budgeted shops (using MySQL or Postgres). Infoworld offered a great roundup of these seven NoSQL databases.
Choosing a database is as much a platform decision as picking any operating system. NoSQL may be an appropriate choice for the apps that don't need concurrent processing of transactions.Edminster, founder of Applied Technologies, adds that he "hasn't heard of anyone using these to facilitate a move from a 3000 to Linux, but I can't claim to have heard all stores of that sort of move. But some of these don't even have a SQL interface, and have to be accessed via APIs (like IMAGE, until you install the limited SQL interface layer)."
Eloquence includes an SQL interface and retains a familiarity of the IMAGE's intrinsic constructs, which is why it's been a popular choice for the 3000 customers headed to Linux, Unix or Windows.
In contrast to all of the above, Edminster points the more technical reader to the current working definition of NoSQL:
Next Generation Databases mostly addressing some of these points: being non-relational, distributed, open-source and horizontally scalable. The original intention has been modern web-scale databases. The movement began early 2009 and is growing rapidly. Often more characteristics apply as: schema-free, easy replication support, simple API, eventually consistent / BASE (not ACID), a huge data amount, and more. So the misleading term "nosql" (the community now translates it mostly with "not only sql") should be seen as an alias to something like the definition above.
For reference, the difference between BASE and ACID:
ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability); most all SQL databases fall under this model.
BASE (Basically Available, Soft state, Eventual consistency). Most NoSQL databases fall under this model.
July 22, 2011
It's time to change your 3000 timers
Allegro Consultants has offered a new white paper that deals with an old and common issue of 3000 management: TCP timers. The support company's Donna Hoffmeister, who has posted a passel of tips about 3000 administration on the 3000 newsgroup, wrote A Discussion of MPE TCP Timers. These timers are a management subject every 3000 owner should discuss with their admin folks. They establish how quickly your system responds to network traffic calls.
Hoffmeister's paper sets out the recommended values for the modern era. HP 3000s have been useful for so many decades that it's easy to overlook some of the fundamental assumptions at the heart of the MPE environment.
These values control how a 3000 reacts in the event it needs to re-send (retransmit) a packet ("chunk") of data over a TCP/IP network. These values were established at least in the MPE V days (and possibly before that) – back when only big, important computers were trying to talk to each other. (Unlike today, when even your refrigerator thinks it needs to "yack it up" over the Internet!)
The important thing to understand about these values is that they are perfectly fine and do not need changing because they are never (or rarely) used on an optimally-performing network. However, given that
1. These days, networks rarely perform optimally, and
2. HP Network Engineers described the above values as "way out of whack"
you should change your TCP values.
Allegro's president Steve Cooper reminded us that the new White Paper from his company is part of a collection of MPE and HP 3000 help at the firm's Papers and Books web page. Advice there includes repairs for aborts and hangs on HP3000s, and even a paper on HP-UX system panics. The company is committed to providing support for 3000s through at least 2016.
July 21, 2011
Education post-migration: Web resources
Migration is a serious project for HP 3000 managers. But the after-effects of changing your environment can be significant as well. There are often questions about operations or architecture that arise once an HP 3000 is finally shut down.
HP is addressing migration education online, but there have been no recent additions of web resources for migrating away from a 3000. Instead, the HP training and tool briefs cover migrations of HP 9000 applications. Hewlett-Packard has devoted a website and new tools for moving onto the Integrity line of HP-UX servers. For the customers who "prefer to protect their investments in applications deployed on HP 9000 systems," HP offers the new HP Containers, software that employs the HP ARIES translation system.
It transparently executes HP 9000 applications on Integrity systems and, therefore, saves considerable time, effort and costs for HP customers by avoiding costly recompilation and porting. Move your entire HP 9000 application ecosystem to HP-UX 11i Integrity system and execute it in a Secure Resource Partition compartment under ARIES. Avoids the need to know the application dependencies or rediscover it manually.
HP also has posted a series of 3-5-minute "HP-UX Gems" from its technical experts; one of the speakers is billed as an HP Distinguished Technologist. These are summaries for the IT architect who needs to prove that Unix is the right choice for a business enterprise. Lately, HP's been getting more questions about whether HP-UX or Oracle should be the bedrock of IT services. For the Oracle bedrock shops, the road often leads to Windows. There's Web-based help for that destination, too, according to a former 3000 system manager.Tony Tibbenham reports that the Spiceworks.com website has been of great help to him. Tibbenham is among the OpenMPE volunteers who remain with that group, in a unique position: an IT manager at a company that relegated its 3000 to historical lookups. He's spent the bulk of his 26-year career using systems other than the 3000, most notably HP-UX. But this year he's looking after a Windows-based network.
Spiceworks.com has been a good resource for him. It's important, because the HP-UX newsgroup comp.sys.hp.unix shut down this year. "Spiceworks is brilliant in my main job -- looking after a Windows-based LAN," he said. "The community is helpful and the posted answers usually accurate."
July 20, 2011
Pre-registrations pile in for Reunion
Members of the HP 3000 community are getting more serious about meeting at this fall's HP3000 Reunion. The event's blog logged had more than 60 subscribers last week. Now the pre-registration tally has started to mount for the Sept. 22-24 gathering at the Computer History Museum in the Bay Area.
If you're reading this on the Reunion's blog and haven't pre-registered yet, it will help the organizers to know which parts of the event you'd like to attend. The three days are just about free, with the exception of a nominal charge for the Saturday evening party. If you haven't signed on at either the blog or the pre-reg webpage, follow this link to learn more about the Reunion and to pre-register (look for a pre-reg link on the Reunion blog's right column).
A good chunk of the 50 members who've pre-registered call Silicon Valley home, so travel's not an issue for them. But there are overseas trips being scheduled for the party, migration training, the CAMUS meeting and more. Some pre-registrants are coming from Hewlett-Packard, too. The HP company ID makes up the largest single group of pre-registrants.
Considering how close the 3000 rests to the Hewlett-Packard's business computer roots, the intentions of HP staff are not surprising. The decision to stop creating and selling HP 3000s happened far above the divisional level. Long after the HP exit plan was announced, staff inside the vendor's labs continued to work for the customers who were remaining, either for the long term or until a migration could be completed. In the photo above taken during 2003's World Wide Wake, HP's engineers gather at the "Epicenter of HP3000 Grief" at Loree's Little Shack in Roseville -- a town that was home to the 3000's manufacturing and a haven for its labbies.Many of the best stories of the 3000's creation reside in the memory of these engineers and its early executives. At the Computer History Museum three years ago, former HP executive Harper Thorpe (at left) told about the earliest days of turning a general purpose HP 3000 into a business success.
At the museum's Minicomputer Software workshop, moderator Burt Grad asked two dozen HP 3000 veterans whether it was a conscious decision on HP's part to go into the commercial business. "We were brought into it by some of our partners who actually saw the opportunity based on what we were bringing to market," Thorpe explained."
Although there was an opportunity relative to what the 3000's competition was offering -- DEC and DG were moving into the applications world -- Thorpe said HP's partners provided the spark for the apps to evolve the 3000 from iron-plus-OS into a business system.
I think to a great degree our partners helped us go there, because they had their [customer] experiences. They knew those opportunities existed and we went hand-in-hand. You couldn't have called HP, at that point in time, a solutions provider. You'd show up in front of a customer and say, "Would you like to buy a computer?" And they'd say, "What?"
That same community -- customers, partners and HP -- are heading to the HP3000 Reunion in about two months.
July 19, 2011
Ask: Should I Stay, or Should I Go?
The question above has been on the minds of 3000 owners and managers ever since 2002. While many have resolved it with a migration, it's not been an easy question to answer. Tomorrow you can ask it during an 11 AM PDT Wednesday webinar with yes, MB Foster, who's been offering these advisories at mid-week all during 2011.
Sometimes the question can be answered more than once. At Arriva London, the question was first answered in 2004 when the London Transport system decided to go to Windows, .NET and IBM's Intel-based servers. Transoft did the work at the time. "The HP 3000 will cease to be supported by HP from 2006," said Alan Ricot, IT manager at the time. "Migration has reduced not only the cost of ongoing maintenance of the legacy system, but also the business risk of being reliant on a platform nearing end-of-life."
However, now comes word that Transport for London (TfL) has signed on to use Software as a Service from Asite to manage contracts. "TfL staff as well as their entire construction supply chain will use Asite's Contract Administration applications to manage contract change and to provide real-time visibility of their actual schedule and cost position against budget," said the SaaS provider this week. Some of those migrated servers have been kicked off the job.
MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster said these kinds of choices -- to skip a migration and just let service providers offer the IT -- were on the horizon, years ago. "We're in the middle of convergence, but it's not going to take 30 years," he said at a conference about the time Arriva was going to .NET. "Small to medium-sized businesses can't afford traditional IT infrastructure."
Of course, Arriva isn't an SMB. The webinar tomorrow will include "stay" or "go" answers. But for some of those going, the question will be how far away do you go today, and how far later on?The shiny red HP 3000 account was called London Buses by Hewlett-Packard for years while the vendor quoted wins for the platform. But by the time the vendor told its 3000 customers that support would cease in 2006, some of its larger companies were ready to go. The organization which became Arriva London might have been able save some money with the extra four years which HP needed to finally end support.
Going sooner can cost more than going later. So when you go is at least as important as if you're going. It might be a good question to ask tomorrow after the webinar's briefing. MB Foster says it will outline an application migration framework.
Attendees will hear about proven, risk mitigation strategies that will help you get started and deliver a thought provoking synopsis to internal decision makers with an eye towards a flexible long term enterprise infrastructure that will match the application to the business’ vision, goals and growth expectations. Bring your CFO, CEO, or General Manager to help educate the whole team in this free webinar.
July 18, 2011
Spicy Remembrances of a Curious OS
We got a bite on one of our hooks in the Web's stream today when Google alerted us to a question on Spiceworks.com. Up on this developer and IT pro forum, a member asked if anyone remembered the HP3000. The question indicated that this member knew the history and current status of the server.
It ran a curious operating system called MPE and had an in-built database called IMAGE. It is the only server I have seen boot after a 20+ foot fall onto concrete (the video is on YouTube) and featured legendary reliability: 10+ years without a reboot, provided you kept the power on.
I inherited one of the oldest and smallest HP3000 servers when I took on this role. It still runs MPE/iX 6.5.
It's not very unusual to see MPE/iX 6.5 running a production HP 3000. Any Series 9x7 server would be frozen on that release. HP prevented 7.0 and later from booting on the 9x7s. That hardware can be had for the price of shipping these days. The support of those systems is a budget item, or should be. The OS might be locked down, but any issues with administration which arise need an escalation chain for that "legendary reliability."The Spiceworks member "mrTibbs2010" went on to summarize a homesteader's position. He even placed credit for the HP source code licenses in the correct place -- OpenMPE's advocates jawboning for years with HP.
HP stopped supporting these boxes at the end of 2010. Some resellers still support them. There is even an organisation, called OpenMPE, who persuaded HP to release most of the source code for MPE, IMAGE et al to a few respected vendors in order that they could help anyone who is "homesteading' i.e. planning to stay on the 3000 forever.
Homesteading is a valid decision when migration is a multi-million dollar project. These servers have been in-place so long, embedded in the business processes.
It's always good to see the label we concocted for the remaining 3000 users, "homesteader," carried forward. Just like it's great to find a new Web resource hooked on one of our Google Alert lines. That video of the fall onto concrete is at our YouTube channel, among other spots on the Web.
Answering questions on the Spiceworks forum lifts a member's rating based on a score of spiciness. We're only at Pimento level because we just joined today. Check out the Spiceworks HP group at community.spiceworks.com/group/show/29-hp. And if you're looking for that YouTube video, check out our NewsWire channel video on the event from the 1990s.
July 12, 2011
Data synch seminar teaches extending reach
MB Foster is giving the next in its series of webinars on Wednesday, July 13. The latest covers a task that's grown more crucial in a multi-hosted world: synchronization of data. You can get this feature in either batch or real-time on today's 3000 marketplace. Managers report that real-time synch is much more useful; secondary data warehouses run reports all day, and users want these reports as up-to-date as they can get them.
The MB Foster product that illustrates the synch ability of the 3000 is UDASynch. The software "supplies high performance and minimal system load synchronization services from server to server, server to website, and to operational data stores within your enterprise," MB Foster reports.
Minimal load means less than a 2 percent drain on your main 3000, whose apps are supplying the data to be synchonized. The seminar begins at 11 AM Pacific, 2 PM Eastern US. You can sign up for the 45-minute briefing on how to extend the utility of your 3000 to other environment at the MB Foster webpage for the seminar. It's free, and the content of these talks is as much strategy as it is presentation of software features.The MB Foster product uses an intermediate Windows-based server to collect the 3000's data. This information then can be passed on to servers running the Unix, Windows or Linux environments.
Birket Foster, the founder of the company and a man who's led many seminars over the 30-plus years he's been in the community, often leads these webinars. It can be 45 minutes well spent, and the meeting includes the chance to ask questions after the presentation. These webinars are another way to keep in touch with your community, too.
July 11, 2011
Sustaining support can maintain migration
More than a few 3000 sites are making a lengthy transition to a different platform. But the story from Viad Corp. shows that dropping 3000 savvy too soon can add expense to any change of environment.
Frank Surina reports that he's managing the task of making the company's 3000 data reliable once more. The mission has been complicated by the company's interim 3000 choices. Support for the system's backup software got dropped more than five years ago. Now the 3000's internals are jumbled so badly that a LISTF request for names of files spits out escape sequences along with the filenames.
Surina, who started working at the company in 1989 on the 3000 and returned after a hiatus, has been tasked to sort out the problems. He said its third party support firm hasn't been able to clear up the issues. It's an unusual implementation among 3000 profiles: the IT architecture uses all KSAM files. But unique 3000 software choices have been a part of this shop since the era in the 1990s when one of its groups was called Greyhound Exhibition Services, serving the trade show vendor base. Cerina was part of a team during that time that wrote an in-house Pascal to C converter -- not a typical in-house project.
Viad, an S&P SmallCap 600 firm which now includes a travel group managing Glacier Park tourism as well as the trade show marketing, appears to have lost its 3000 management for too long on the way to a migration. Surina said that Oracle Financials are now nearly complete in serving the company. But one last application that generates job numbers resides on a 3000. The server hasn't completed a full backup since last August, and a hot backup system has had the same data confusion problems exhibited by the main server. Not even the STORE command is working as expected.
Although there's a narrow group of support firms which have broad enough experience to solve the problems at Viad, Surina is pursuing the expertise he needs to repair the 3000 before his migration can complete. This final piece of the transition may have been less costly, if support contracts (for the backup software) and 3000 administration skills remained in place.Staying in contact remains important to keeping a 3000 stable. The server is legendary for its low-maintenance status. But a problem with file structures, which leads to incomplete backups, is an issue that can be solved more quickly with a call to file system and backup experts. Support gets dropped on 3000s still making their way out of an IT architecture. That's a gamble. If a company's 3000 expertise is pared back to developers and system architects -- and nobody else -- operational snarls can turn into barriers. In many cases, admin skills are not developer skills.
On the other hand, contacting a company where you're dropped support -- only to learn it must charge a back-support fee before reinstating you -- can be a show-stopper. (Considering how hard it's become to generate 3000 revenue at software vendors, this kind of reparation seems short-sighted, however logical.)
Since the 3000 support resource Viad is using was unable to solve the problem, that's a cue to escalate to better support. Surina called our offices hoping to find a lead to a fresh support firm, and we suggested a pair of companies. We also recommended that he post his tech issues to the 3000 mailing list's readers. Tech issues get solved there often, usually by independent support experts who stay in touch with the community via an old-school listserv. It's no substitute for complex troubleshooting, but it's a start.
We like to think of ourselves as a community signpost and a data bank of resources. But the NewsWire represents one window into the 3000 community. If you're having trouble and need a lead, do give us a call or send an email. Keep your own hook in those expertise waters, too -- so you can catch a solution before a problem escalates fast enough to outflank that greyhound of a 3000, the one still running any bit of your business.
July 05, 2011
HP Support Center bumps out into the open
June was a month of transition for the HP IT Response Center. But with July already into its 5th day, it looks like the online support database for HP's server products is still offering a bumpy ride.
The good news is that the new HP Support Center has transferred accounts to the HP Passport sign-in system. Our old account was recognized by the new website this morning. But today's trouble lies beyond user ID recognition. As of noon PDT today, information from the HP Knowledge Base "product selection is currently unavailable, please try again later." The search engine based on product selections is not working today.
HP 3000 questions and answers are located in the "General" category of the "Servers" group for the Support Center's Forum. HP9000 and Integrity and Itanium servers have their own listed categories. The fastest way to locate answers to 3000 issues seems to be to type "HP3000" (note the no-spaces naming of the 3000) plus the subject you're researching.
It seems a bit less than obvious to look for HP "e3000" technical help under the "HP9000" category, but there it is: http://h30499.www3.hp.com/t5/HP-e3000/bd-p/itrc-190. Still other references can be found in the main part of the "General" category, like discussions about HP 700-Series terminals for the HP 3000 and HP 9000.These forums are still being used, sporadically, by HP 3000 managers. Olav Kappert, a 3000 consultant, asked about finding the full escape character sequences for the HP2392 or HP700/92 terminals. Two weeks ago Dennis Handly replied
See the PDF attachment in this thread:
The new link is:
Of course, moving to such links might provide spotty results. That first URL doesn't lead to any help; you want to follow any "new link" references. (To save you a few clicks, the four scanned pages of escape sequences, a PDF file, is on HP's Forum site here.) HP migrated its Forum postings at the beginning of last week. Searching via Google for, say, Dennis Handly's posts on the forum returns links that dump onto a rerouting page -- without technical answers.
On June 26th, the HP IT Resource Center forums were migrated to the HP Enterprise Business Community. This migration coincided with the release of the new HP Support Center, and the retirement of the legacy ITRC support portal. As part of the transition, we have migrated all ~2.5 million posts and ~712k users from the ITRC forums into the new community site.
As a result of this transition, all links/bookmarks/search results that attempt to load an ITRC forum page will redirect to this announcement page. Search results will update automatically over time, as search engines index the new community site and remove references to the legacy ITRC forums.
A very useful webpage: HP's mapping of old ITRC groups to the new website, the New Forum Locations by ITRC Tree.
June 08, 2011
Another migration looms for HP's users
Hewlett-Packard has put its enterprise users on the migration road in several ways over the past decade. HP 3000 customers saw the platform lose its place in HP's lineup. HP-UX users have weathered a change from PA-RISC servers to the Itanium-based Integrity line. Now the HP support team is migrating the company's entire computing customer base by the end of next week.
Bill Hassell, the HP-UX guru who tracks support for Source Direct now, reports that HP's June 18 migration from the ITRC is so profound that customers better get their critical patches and analysis done before next weekend. On the HP-UX Users forum of Linked In, Hassell -- who once worked support for Unix at HP -- said next weekend will be a watershed, but maybe not all gloom and doom.
The migration of the ITRC -- not just Forums, but patches, firmware, patch analysis, call tracking -- is still scheduled for June 18. I would not recommend doing and patch analysis or other critical tasks for a couple of weeks after June 18 -- this is a big move. The good news is that a separate company (Lithium) which specializes in social media will be maintaining the UI, search engine and other major components for the Forums.
Veteran managers on the forum say that HP's search engine keeps losing steam with the changes up to now. "Every time a new version of the ITRC search engines was released, it provided less and less," said Simon Elias Brito. HP 3000 support companies in the independent market are usually serving HP-UX system users as well -- and probably better than the vendor's Web resources.Hassell, who's seen the new ITRC replacement, said he's heard from the HP liaison to the Connect user group, "the current user interfaces should not be significantly changed once you navigate to call submission or patch analysis sections. The forums will definitely look different, but will be adding a much better search engine and a much better UI for text entry. Problems with word processor copy/paste should be resolved -- but I have not tested any of this yet."
Lithium has a significant footprint in large corporate social media. The company's software powers the Home Depot How-To Community, for example, to allow 25 in-store associates to create content for use across the company. They're a hybrid of sales associate and help desk operator; they maintain regular contact with customers. Good social media tools are a essential element in community help. But there's no expectation or history with Home Depot's How-To. The ITRC has a track record, and it is a crucial element in HP system ownership.
Steven E. Protter, a systems administrator who's so prolific on the ITRC he's got "2-Star Olympian" status after 10 years, said the current ITRC needed an overhaul. Now that it's at hand, the user of HP support must accept and embrace it, Protter said in a discussion you can find (for now) at the ITRC Forums.
We the community have been demanding change. From what I found out in a conference call, the current applications and infrastructure were orphaned. Nobody who knew them well enough to make changes still worked at HP. It might be fun to finger-point, but it was a reality and it happened.
The current system is great, but it is hard to search, and legacy content is not always in great shape. We demanded change. Well, we got it. The thing to do now is to participate and provide constructive input.
June 02, 2011
World of Web links blasts beyond pranks
They say you can get anything you want off the Web, but there are some experiences you find by accident as ugly as those who create them. Instead of prowling around for opinions and schoolyard humor about decommissioning HP 3000s with cannon-fire, many genuine resources are well within reach of a click or tap on your browser.
HP’s storage choices can be confounding these days, with parts of three product lines all being merged and offered for managers of enterprise systems tracking SureStore, XP, 3PAR and more. A lunchtime talk from HP, via the Connect user group, sets the complex choices in order. You can track down the link by looking at our blog article from March 29.
OpenMPE may be scrambling to stay relevant, but the group of volunteers has mounted a server that offers classic technical papers, a collection of HP subsystem software for use in developing and maintaining code, plus links to the Contributed Software Library. The Invent3K server is the most tangible item from a group that’s been hunting for a mission. OpenMPE.com delivers these goods.Webinars are worthwhile when they are well-led and focused on your own needs. MB Foster has made a habit of running them every other Wednesday this year, tracking subjects like data migration and management, as well as wisdom gained from years of helping migration of 3000 apps. Just yesterday the company detailed and demonstrated Version 7.06 of UDACentral, a tool for data migration. You can get notice of these upcoming presentations, each including a Q&A, at mbfoster.com. Healthcare datamarts are the next subject up in the schedule.
Networking is sometimes best done in person, so the classic user group meeting remains an important tool. The Connect user group mounts its annual conference with HP next week, and copious details are available online. I also spotted a pair of letters for download, written to help justify the expense. Details are online at the user group’s website, connect-community.org.
If 3000-focused meetings are the only ones to trigger your justification, this fall will include another one whose details will unfold in a blog. HP3000reunion.com is going to include what’s scheduled, who plans to attend and details about how you can organize your very own part of a three-day reunion in the Bay Area in September. Instead of wading through paper submission committees and an approval process, your community is opening opportunity for the meeting. All is explained at the website, they say.
If your tastes run to video that doesn’t debase the 3000 and its legacy, a simple search of YouTube turns up some inspiring and informative minutes. Offline diagnostic utility instructions for the 3000. A tour of the technical details of the N-Class servers, the most advanced models HP will ever build. And history, if you want, about 3000 software growing up, a Hewlett-Packard that preserves its icons, and how your community looked just two years ago in its previous meeting. And if you spy a gun-fest on YouTuve launched against an old 3000, brush past it. A lot more links are shots on target.
May 13, 2011
Webinar migrates practices into plans
MB Foster has spent every other Wednesday teaching the principles of HP 3000 data management, best practices which customers are still using to structure their IT transitions. At a webinar this spring, one attendee said his company has been talking about migrating from the 3000 "ever since I've been here, 13 years," he said. "From our standpoint, the first decision that has to be made is, 'What platform?' "
That the kind of approach that flows from in-house apps, where doing a lift and shift onto another system means not purchasing a replacement software suite. Only 15 percent of customers are migrating code, while even fewer build a new system to replace what's on the 3000. MB Foster's Birket Foster said the decision to buy rather than build makes sense only to a company which has the resources needed to do the work.
"We look at whether customers should build, buy or migrate," Foster said, "and most of the time people buy. These days most folks don’t have the skill set to build. Only in a totally unique business will you get some competitive advantage from building the application. Otherwise, you should really consider buying something off the shelf."
Foster said that following a three-phased approach ensures the fewest risks. First you assess, then plan, then implement. Migration might not be the end of what you're going to do, he said in the 45-minute webinar. "It might be the first stage, to integrate better into the company's operations. While HP 3000 migrations have come into sharp focus during the last 10 years, MB Foster's got 25 years' experience migrating data. That data is the fuel that drives any migration.Migrating data is a process that requires time. "Data migration is the fuel that drives applications," Foster said. "Without data, there's no point in having applications. We know that implementation of data in the new environment will take at least three tries. Always allow for extra time, because you will be waiting for data."
You'll be waiting for data, he adds, because "All applications have some bad data. You need extract, transform and load -- or extract, clean, transform and load tools in place. You need to do this early. When we get into these, we find people start looking to learn what their history policy ought to be."
One customer in the webinar said his company using MANMAN had narrowed the target applications to SAP and Oracle, but had also started to contemplate when to begin migrating work. Foster said the more important question to ask is when you want to be finished.
The customer said, "We've been hearing 'by the middle of next year,' but we've been hearing that from our senior management for 13 years now." In that case, he added, "it means they should have started more than a year ago. But it's hard to commit when we don't know what we're moving to, or when."
Buying a replacement application means "you'll probably look at three to seven packages to find the correct application," Foster said. "You also have to understand any reengineering tasks involved. That's the hard part, the things that take users through a lot of pain, because they have to re-learn the way they do things. Plus with SAP, "Most of what you need to do is understand what the business re-engineering piece will be."
Building an assessment report identifies all the tasks to be completed, organized in order of magnitude. One choice that shouldn't consume much time is deciding which platform to migrate toward.
"It doesn't matter," Foster said. "The only thing that counts, to tell you the truth, is something that your team will be able to support for a 3-5-year period. They all perform about the same, they're all starting to cost about the same. The cost is much less than it used to be. You'll probably spend between six and 24 months doing this process. Once you've got everything ready to go, you have to figure out how to do the cutover."
10 other systems surround the customer's MANMAN system, with the 3000 feeding data to all of them. There's plenty of chatter but no movement yet, a logjam that could be broken with an assessment. "You need to determine time, and the big thing people underestimate drastically is the amount of testing you need to do before you go live. Typically, people estimate about one-third of the time it really takes."
Migrating companies should not rely on doing their own work with existing staff. "You want to make sure the project is staffed properly: that you're not trying to take full time people and leave them on their job, plus make them do this migration as well," Foster said. "You can do that for a week or two, maybe, but it gets old after six months."
The bedrock best practice is knowing what's to be done through an assessment that leads to a plan. If you don't do the planning, "you'll end up with a stalled project," Foster said as he wrapped up the webinar. And even the best planning needs to have people with experience and a great project manager running it. Planning solves the problems with applications and making sure you've mapped all the functionality, the problems with mapping data, and makes sure you have the right skills on the other side of the migration when you need them."