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November 2005

Migrators advise: set aside lots of time

Summit Information Systems probably has more migrated HP 3000 customers than any other package application vendor this year. They got a good two-year head start on the rest of the application market by launching a Unix port during 1999. It was 2003 before the company was ready to have its customers test out an HP-UX version of the Spectrum credit union application.

After two years of migrations, their customers are checking in with positive reviews about the process of moving away from their HP 3000s. (Reports on relative ease of use and value are still too far off.) A credit union customer is similar to many HP 3000 sites in one way: Many of these companies have limited IT operations, instead of the vast data processing staffs that make up the majority of the HP migration success stories. These can be companies with much in common with the garden-variety HP 3000 customer, if size matters.

The customers report that time matters the most in being successful with a migration. Yesterday we introduced the strategy that Summit has followed to move more than 50 of its customers onto HP's Unix systems, and a tip to use ISO 9001 training to smooth out a migration, if you've got ISO background. Even with that kind of prelude, however, the advice is to set aside enough time to get the transfer right.

Scott Curwood of Rogue Federal Credit Union in Medford, Oregon, who had the benefit of such ISO training, reported to his community his migration lacked drama, thank goodness:

It went incredibly smooth and almost anti-climatic, even though we migrated a whole month earlier than our original target date. We didn’t have any surprises whatsoever, mostly due to our stringent testing and having run at least 20 data migrations prior to live weekend. We were almost running a fresh data migration every night.  That may sound like a lot, but I guarantee, it’s what you need to do. The success of our migration is a direct correlation of our constant testing of our jobs, as well as being able to run them in parallel with our live system with fresh data to verify that the jobs are actually doing what they are supposed to do.

It's this testing that's going to extend a migration's duration, according to much of the advice we've heard this year from users, Platinum partners and HP.

Continue reading "Migrators advise: set aside lots of time" »

Migrations earn credit from testing, tools

Summit Information Systems is leading the way among HP 3000 software vendors in migrations to Unix. Dick Drollinger reported the company had migrated 52 of its customers by October, using an application written for HP-UX that's in its fourth revision. Summit rolled out its first Unix version of its credit union application in 2003.

Some of the credit union computer professionals are announcing their migrations on the SU-Talk mailing list, a Yahoo group. One noted that his ISO 9001 training at a software company helped him move through the migration process once he landed at Rogue Federal Credit Union in Medford, Oregon. Rogue has more than 41,000 members and assets of $340 million. Scott Curwood, the Information Services Administrator at the credit union, said the ISO training he brought to Rogue "was a good experience that has allowed me to apply those same stringent testing policies to other areas like our Unix migration."

Drollinger said Summit has been preparing well in advance of their actual cutover dates, so the migration appears to be accomplished over a weekend. In fact, he added, most of the tellers and loan officers don't even know they've got a Unix system to replace the HP 3000. ""The front office staff — the teller and lenders — don't even know there's a change," he said during a talk this fall. "It's all the back office staff that gets the opportunity to learn new things."

Continue reading "Migrations earn credit from testing, tools" »

Be thankful you can make a difference

In our weekly podcast (5MB MP3 file) I talk about the news I heard on the eve of Thanksgiving, news that made me feel thankful for opportunity. After NPR had broadcast the line, "this is my baby, the best computer system in the world, the HP 3000," they had me hooked. Have a listen to our five minutes of commentary and follow-on reporting about the real impact of a business decision.

You can also listen to the original NPR broadcast, which has some "untruths," according to the HP 3000 expert quoted in it, out at the NPR Web page:

Leading An Offer of an Enterprise Group

Kristi Browder wants her user group to become your user group. Like many HP 3000 customers, the president of Encompass board of directors has been an enterprise computing user since the mid-1980s, starting with Digital’s PDP/11 systems. This year her group of 10,000 members wants to attract former members of Interex, rolling out a first-year-free offer and other discounts for members of the other HP user group.

Have a look at our Q&A interview with Browder, one we conducted while Encompass was helping HP mount the first HP Technology Forum this fall. User groups still have a role to play in the life of the HP 3000, especially if they're willing to assume advocacy duties with an understanding of collaboration.

Can Linux lead to open doors?

Yesterday we took a peek at what the HP 3000 is facing to remain a player in the open software environment. Training and experience play a big role in making a 3000 customer confident to use software such as perl and PHP with the MPE/iX environment.

Making perl modules install and run as expected can fall short of expectations for 3000 customers. For example, CPAN installation packages, designed to save time for new perl functionality, sometimes don't work, pushing the persistent administrator into manually installing perl packages.

That might seem like a demerit for the 3000, but another perspective is how much of this thrashing is a common part of many an open source odyssey. Yes, the HP 3000's perl fell behind the latest release this summer, when HP's Mark Bixby had to beg off his volunteer updating efforts. But even work with the latest release of an open source standard like RedHat's Linux can become a genuine time-sink.

HP 3000 software developer and entrepreneur David Greer shared an insight with the NewsWire this week about how inscrutable the Linux experience can become. On the other hand, Guy Smith, a 3000 veteran who's built a healthy tech marketing consultancy, reminded us that MPE and IMAGE offered lots of head-scratching in their earlier days, too.

Greer reported:

I’ve been playing with Red Hat Linux ES 3.0. I chose that distro because Dell would ship me a machine with it installed (I was not offered any other options).  I recently needed to update a bunch of Perl stuff and it wasn’t in RPM format.  I lost five hours before I knew it. And I never did get my machine updated the way I wanted. I feel that Linux looks simple on the surface.  When you try and get it to do useful stuff, it sometimes shines and sometimes just sucks a lot of time.

Continue reading "Can Linux lead to open doors?" »

Can open source still be a 3000 stream?

The 3000 community's most seasoned vets have spread their wings well beyond MPE in recent years. These are developers, founders of software vendors, even the top lab experts still inside HP. Many have been scouting the heady waters of open software such as Linux distributions and open source tools such as the scripting language perl. Much of this is available on the HP 3000, but it is in need of attention.

Not long ago, a discussion among these vets raised the question, "How much trouble will the HP 3000 have following the open source stream?" The answers included observations about how much attention any kind of open source solution, even Linux, still demands from the brightest in your community.

Perl was the trigger for this discussion. David Greer, once a principal at Robelle until he sold off his share for a two-year journey by sail around the Mediterranean, posed the problem clearly. In a message he shared with us, he tried to set the stage for a study everyone in the 3000 community needs to undertake:

We are in an interesting time when I think the management of many of the common platforms (Windows, Linux, Sun, AIX, HP-UX, MPE) is getting much harder.  To really run these well, you need to understand systems at a deep, deep level, just as we did in the 1980s with the HP 3000.  But market dynamics suggest that no one is willing to fund this level of expertise. And no one is training people on a multi-platform basis, despite the fact that the Internet is forcing unheard-of interoperability."

Greer, who we profiled six years ago while he was president at Robelle, is working with tech startups today and experimenting with such open source staples as perl. He shared his own experiences with perl as a way of showing that open source will cost less — but it demands an investment of training and experience. Those are things the HP 3000 needed, too, according to another veteran of the platform.

Continue reading "Can open source still be a 3000 stream?" »

Faster COBOL, post-migration

Duane Percox, one of the founders of K-12 software supplier QSS, has put up numbers that show how much faster COBOL becomes once you move away from the HP 3000 hardware. QSS has been moving its MPE/iX software to the Unix and Linux platforms for several years, patiently testing and selecting the best components to the new non-3000 solution. Percox, who's taught software architecture classes for Interex user group conferences, has a new set of numbers that show the speed you can expect to gain on Intel-based hardware.

I assume everyone is enjoying their migration efforts these days as they make their way off their favorite platform. I recently ran my simple COBOL benchmarks on a Linux production-class server which we just installed here at QSS. (The system is a 2-way Xeon 2.8 Ghz; 6Gb RAM; 2x73-Gb 15k hw/raid-1; 4x36gb 15k hw/raid-5; the Linux distro is SuSE Ent. 9 SP2 for 64-bit) This box is now the fastest system I have tested.

... This system can sort an 800Mb file (10-char key; 80-byte record) faster than an HP 3000 A400-100-110 system can sort a similar 30Mb file. But everyone knew that would be the case...

The QSS updated cobol timings can be found at

Continue reading "Faster COBOL, post-migration" »

A new commando takes up collaboration

Have a listen to our six-minute podcast (6MB MP3 file) to the sound of MPE's tomorrows — and tomorrows and tomorrows, someday. Resistance is a word that’s described some noble organizations in the world’s history, especially the 20th century. If you can think of the board members of OpenMPE as the leaders of the MPE resistance, then those leaders have engaged a cooperation commando. Last week, on the fourth anniversary of HP’s business announcement about the 3000, they told us Martin Gorfinkel would be the go-to guy to get a deal worked out about MPE’s future.

Why it makes sense to wait for a deal negotiated by this veteran is the question we consider in our broadcast. It's more than just a matter for the long-term homesteader, too. Anybody migrating who will need to keep relying on MPE in 2007 will also want the best afterlife for the 3000. A single voice to hammer out the details instead of a committee might make sense right now. It's those details that HP seems willing to discuss, this year.

HP's servers finally star in a quarter

HP released its fourth quarter 2005 results yesterday, numbers which finally included some balance in the company's profit picture. After many years of watching the company's printers dominate HP profitability, the unit that makes HP's 3000 replacements tripled its profits. Other HP units generated black ink on a basis not seen in many quarters.

That Unix-and-Windows-selling Enterprise Storage and Servers business racked up $405 million in profits, a reflection of CEO Mark Hurd's promise to "double down" on this core business in the quarters to come. After investments in many consumer products and a misguided chase of Dell-like, low-profit revenue numbers in PCs, it appears HP is righting its business mix ship.

That said, Printers and Imaging still led the HP profit picture for the quarter as well as fiscal 2005 totals. Printers had operating profit of $896 million, off nearly 20 percent from last years' Q4. Services, still collecting revenues from HP 3000 sites who purchase HP support, notched $322 million in profits, followed by PC's $200 million and HP Software's $27 million. Doing the math on the totals shows that printers contributed less than half of the operating profits — just — for the first time in years at HP.

Investors bought the company stock up to above $30 a share in after-hours trading, a mark that HP's stock hasn't seen in more than four years — roughly the period since HP decided to purchase Compaq.

There were some troublesome elements to the company's report, overall. Business Critical Servers, the part of Enterprise Storage and Servers that includes HP's Unix systems, showed a revenue decline of 1 percent. Printers had their profits flagging at the same time that Dell's printers won a customer satisfaction survey over the HP products.

One job in ten at the company has been emptied, although it's hard to say what the net effect is because HP is also hiring at the same time. HP has now laid off (or in the 3000 group's case, "Enhanced Early Retired") some 15,300 employees, more than the 14,500 forecast by Hurd in July. And the CEO was proud of the fact that "We're tighter with a buck" than ever, a business strategy that can't be sustained if it wants to play in low-profit places like printers and TVs and consumer PCs. For one thing, separating that many people from HP cost the company more than $1.6 billion in Q4; the company took a total $1.1 billion charge for "restructuring-related costs and amortization of intangible assets."

Continue reading "HP's servers finally star in a quarter" »

Set up an HP 3000 Secure Web Console

By Gilles Schipper
GSA Inc.

As an HP3000 system administrator, have you ever been in a situation where you have had to reboot your HP3000 without advanced planning or warning?

Or — even with advanced planning — wouldn’t it be nice to be able to enjoy 100 percent full console capability, including system reboot, for your 3000 from the comfort of your home or any other location remote from the actual HP3000?

How convenient would that be — particularly if your HP3000 is located in another city, even another country from where you or your support staff is situated ?

Of course, some would argue that capability is already at hand with the remote console functionality associated with the modem port that comprises the multi-function IO card of most HP3000s.

That would be a correct assumption if you had the right modem and the right configuration.

In my experience, you would also need the moon and planets to align correctly and know the magic incantation to recite at the precise time in order to have the remote console facility behave in a manner as described above.

Not only that, the existing remote console port requires dial-up modem access in order to establish the necessary communication. How passé – not to mention insecure - in this day and age of high-speed Internet access.

In many instances, any alternative to the physical console would be preferable to the quality of output of existing ancient consoles, devices that even laser eye surgery would not correct satisfactorily.

Fortunately, there is a simple and affordable solution available today that provides very convenient remote console capability from any location where Internet access is available (and that, today, is virtually anywhere on this planet, and even elsewhere).

This same solution also provides for physical console replacement in cases where the physical console is not in the best condition — probably a quite common situation for many HP3000 installations.

The convenient and inexpensive solution is in the form of the HP Secure Web Console (SWC).

Continue reading "Set up an HP 3000 Secure Web Console" »

Two hours' advice on moving to twisted pair

In the span of less than two hours, the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup delivered a series of user reports today on how to move away from coaxial network connections and onto more modern twisted pair wiring. In wiring parlance, this is moving from 10-Base-2 networks (called ThinLAN in the 3000 world) to 10-Base-T — the T standing for twisted pair.

Once James Byrne asked how to do this upgrade to his disaster recovery system, a quartet of net vets explained the process. Denys Beauchemin chipped in first:

It’s been several years since I have done this, but it’s easy.  You have the pull the MFIO card and right inside, next to the outside panel itself, you will find a rather sizable (2 inches) block that you need to lift and place in the other position, if I recall correctly. Then you need to get an inexpensive ($5-$35) transceiver and plug it into the MFIO card.  You then plug your RJ-45 into the transceiver.

Tracy Johnson confirmed this advice;

Exactly what Denys said (although I thought the block was smaller.) Instead of a transceiver, you “could” use one of those fat AUI cables long enough to go to a hub or switch.  But I don’t think they make hubs or switches with those ports anymore.  So you’re better off with a cheap transceiver.

Jeff Kell, curator of the 3000-L host system (which we've learned is a Windows 2003 system, not a Linux server) added a time-saving alternative next.

Continue reading "Two hours' advice on moving to twisted pair" »

OpenMPE adds a new negotiator

The group advocating a post-2006 future for MPE and the HP 3000 added a seasoned software executive to its toolbelt yesterday, on the fourth anniversary of the HP announcement cancelling the vendor's 3000 business. Martin Gorfinkel, a veteran of nearly 30 years of development, company management and use of HP 3000s and related hardware, was named to the organization as the lead negotiator with HP in a press release.

OpenMPE's directors said Gorfinkel is also going to be responsible for taking up the challenge of attracting customers to the advocacy group. Chairman Birket Foster said this summer that OpenMPE wouldn't have full-time employees. Gorfinkel may act as the one exception — provided HP gives the group something to do during 2006.

The vendor will announce before year's end whether it will license MPE/iX source code for limited use by a third party, although the nature of the announcement is still being closely held by HP. Language in the OpenMPE press release remained optimistic about the announcement, expected before December 31, that could make using 3000s a safer prospect after HP shuts down its development and support labs at the close of 2006.

"OpenMPE is in final stages of working with HP on strategies to support the HP 3000 customers past Dec 31, 2006," the release said. "OpenMPE has proposed to the community a fee-based service for providing upkeep of the MPE operating system and its environment. If this service comes on line, users of MPE will be asked to commit funds to enable OpenMPE to hire software engineers to take charge of the 68 racks of equipment and the build and test processes which turn millions of lines of code into the secure and stable OS we know as MPE."

Continue reading "OpenMPE adds a new negotiator" »

Listen Up: After 4 years, what's transition amounted to?

With the unwitting help of the Temptations, our weekly podcast (9.5 MB MP3 file) comes in one business day later than usual, on a very special day in the HP 3000’s history. Four years ago today, HP dropped the axe on its oldest business computer line. But the debate still goes on about why, whether HP’s business move will kill off the community — and how much longer a computer without a vendor’s future can feel safe to rely upon.

Have a listen to our 10 minutes of history and perspective, filtered through the lessons of four years of change.  What has happened in those four years has been the rise of the third party’s value to the 3000’s future. Third parties will make migrations work for many of the smaller shops. Meanwhile, volunteers have been working on HP to get a limited license for MPE in 2007 and beyond.  If anything's dying, it's certainly taking the time to do it right.

Steps to send DTCs out the door

Distributed Terminal Controllers represent the first technology HP 3000 shops used to connect with PA-RISC systems. These DTCs remain in use across the 3000 community, but shops are looking at making their networks more modern with the use of standard switches. What's more, HP's yanked support for DTCs under HP-UX 11i v3 (11.26), according to a panel discussion at last month's HP Technology Forum. That means either keeping DTCs in place after a migration by setting up a separate HP-UX workstation, or cutting those DTCs off.

When a 3000 customer using ThinLAN networks asked what steps to take to "de-commission" their hardware, Tracy Johnson delivered the answers over the 3000-L mailing list:

Can I just simply power down and disconnect, or is there a graceful way of doing this? Also, if a printer is attached via one of those DTCs, how can I relocate the device to be plugged into the one DTC I want to keep?

Since you’re on ThinLan all you should need to do is take your “T” BNC connectors and put terminator ends on both sides of it.  Then plug it into the back of your Multifunction I/O card.  In effect, your ThinLan is still working, but there is nothing to talk to. Assuming your DTCs are the only things using your ThinLan of course, and you have another NIC card for the remainder of your network.  (I’d hate to ruin your whole network.)

Second, in NMMGR go to the DTC subscreens and hit the DELETE  key for each DTC and SAVE it. Then go through the VALIDATE procedure.  When it gets to the point where is says to do it now or at next reboot, either yes or no, it shouldn’t matter.  Although now would be more convenient.  (It “may” fail, but there will be a disclaimer saying it will take effect at next reboot anyway.)

Joe Dolliver added that keeping a DTC-linked printer in the network means "You need to know if the printer accepts a Jetdirect card. If so you have to connect via the card."

24-hour update: 3000 conference interest rises

Responses to Alan Yeo's proposal for a 3000-only conference in 2006 were rising toward the 30-attendee mark in the first day after the posting on our blog yesterday. (We included a note out on the 3000-L mailing list about the post, too). Yeo added a comment to the post this morning that notes that early responses, including 20 e-mails directly to him, have been "encouraging, but nowhere near enough yet. So get those fingers typing and remember the default if you don't respond is 'Not Interested!' "

To put rosy glasses on for a moment, having nearly 30 people, including Eloquence vendor Marxmeier Software's offer of support, respond within a day feels more than encouraging. Interex mounted user group conferences for the HP 3000 which did not draw 100 attendees, including vendors and speakers, during 2003. No meeting of the 3000 customers at last month's HP Technology Forum could even muster 45 attendees in a single room.

Of course, Interex's benchmarks for attendance in the 2002-2004 period don't serve as a marker for fiscal success — unless you factor in a new model of conference: organized by volunteers like a user group, supported by vendors eager to connect to 3000 sites who are still mulling over migration (even if they are homesteading for the near term). If Yeo's stalking horse took steps onto the conference track, it would only have to break even, so long as it delivers face-to-face networking and leads for its sponsors.

Continue reading "24-hour update: 3000 conference interest rises" »

Hands Up for a 3000 event in 2006!

By Alan Yeo

Okay folks, this is a bit of a stalking horse piece. I’d like to solicit feedback to see if there is enough enthusiasm within the HP 3000 community to see if it’s practical to organise an exclusively HP 3000 event in 2006.

In my opinion, it is unlikely that any organisation planning an event in 2006 would have sufficient high-value content for anyone interested in homesteading on, or migrating from the HP 3000 to make it worthwhile attending. So if we think there is still value to be gained — and knowledge to be shared — within the 3000 community in physical rather than virtual manner, then maybe we had better think about organising it ourselves.

[Editor's Note: You can e-mail Yeo your answers — just a simple message like “Great Idea, I'd go” or “Not interested, Include me out” — by clicking on the link on his name above. Or posting a comment here, using the "Comments" link below.]

I'm not talking about creating a new HP 3000 User Group. What I'm thinking about is something like a weekend or two-day event that’s exclusively HP 3000, with two parallel tracks, one for Homesteading and one for Migration, but with lots of opportunity to network and share knowledge and experience. Funny, I guess I have just described the early User Group meetings I used to attend.

The objective would be to make this event as low-cost as is practical. Try and find a location that has good, and hopefully inexpensive air transport to it.  Maybe for the location, a university campus or something similar. So no, I'm not thinking of a $150 a night hotel and $1,000 entrance fee of major events. Maybe something that could be organised for a couple of hundred dollars each, plus travel expenses.

Continue reading "Hands Up for a 3000 event in 2006!" »

User group wants to encompass 3000 sites

The community of HP 3000 user group members can turn toward a new organization this fall, pretty much for free at first. Encompass, the user group founded by Digital's enterprise computer customers which now embraces all of HP's enterprise lines, wants Interex members to join up. Until December 31, the membership for the first year is free to former Interex members.

Kristi Browder, the president of Encompass who's running for another term, said "We hope that Interex members will be able to find a new home and join in the valuable exchange of user knowledge that is the foundation of all user groups." While at the moment there's not a lot of HP 3000 expertise in Encompass, the group has built a significant experience base for the 3000 migration targets of HP's Unix, Windows enterprise servers, storage solutions and the OpenVMS environment.

The first-year-free offer also goes for the OpenView Forum International (OVFI), a user group built around the experience of using HP's network management environment. Encompass and OVFI partnered along with HP to produce last month's HP Technology Forum. Encompass counts about 10,000 active members, and OVFI has about 8,000 on its membership rolls. As of the week of the Technology Forum, Encompass is extending its membership discounts to another group of HP 3000 pros: HP Certified Professionals.   

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NewsWire TV: Seeing a CEO in action

For our second episode in our new video ventures, we offer about five minutes of footage from the recent HP Technology Forum's keynote of all keynotes, when new CEO Mark Hurd addressed about 4,000 attendees. If you've never seen or heard from the replacement for ousted CEO Carly Fiorina, you might want to take a look. Hurd reminds us of former CEO John Young, with a better sense of humor.

We've got a 7 MB QuickTime file to look over in your browser, if it's equipped to watch QuickTime. You can also right-click on the link below to save it to your PC and run it in QuickTime standalone, or in another viewer.

CEO Mark Hurd at HP Tech Forum 2005

(If you're a Windows user, you can download the free QuickTime player for Windows 2000 or later to watch this small-screen version.)

Hurd had confidence that stopped short of hubris in his brief scene before HP's presales professionals and some of its customers. The company produced a slick show for those who want some hope of a return to more traditional HP ways, even if Hurd's appearance did get preceded with a driving dance beat. Hurd only spoke in a speech for three minutes before repairing to the center of the stage to do a "Q&A" interview with one of his chief marketing executives.

Listen up: The sound of Itanium braking

In our weekly podcast (7MB MP3 file), we talk for about seven minutes about how it’s become easy to doubt the future for HP’s enterprise processors. Those are the Itanium line of chips, conceived by HP, but being built by Intel. Built more slowly than HP dreamed, in passionate speeches down at the Technology Forum last month. Today’s Itanium serves in HP’s Integrity systems. But the latest news about the Itanium roadmap might be making some 3000 customers slow down their migrations to Integrity, if they want the fastest alternatives.

Itanium line delays another chip's arrival

When HP chose a partner to help build its enterprise-grade processors, the company picked the market leader more than a decade ago. But HP hardly could have imagined a world of 2006, when delays at Intel's chip foundries would keep customers from making the move to HP's latest business computers.

In summary, that's what Intel's announcement last week means to the HP 3000 customer looking forward to moving up to faster, more price-competitive servers. Intel announced that it will be delaying not only its Montecito generation of Itanium chips, but the next two generations beyond. Tukwilla, the chip that knows how to idle at extemely low power, as well as an in-between improvement to Montecito, Montvale, have also been delayed.

The holdup looks to be about six months of delivery, according to Intel's report. But that can turn out to be a crucial six months for the HP 3000 customers. Those who need to stick with HP for support, well, they've been looking at the second half of 2006 as a very important period of installation for 3000 alternatives. The Intel news appears to be a factor in kicking Montecito-based HP Integrity servers into 2007 delivery. That's a significant six months for many HP 3000 sites.

Continue reading "Itanium line delays another chip's arrival" »

NewsWire TV premiere: 3000 Crash Test

We've probed the depths of the NewsWire's rat-pack — er, we mean archives — to unearth a popular bit of 3000 legend. In the spring of 1997, as part of the computer's 25th anniversary celebration, the HP 3000 division created a 3-minute video to show how the server could survive a three-story crash.

We've got our copy of the HP "customer-viewable" video available as a download in a modest QuickTime file of 7 MB. You can right-click on the link to capture the file to your disk, if you want, then play it in the standalone QuickTime player at an enlarged screen size.

There's also a version you can watch on YouTube at the 3000 NewsWire channel.

George Stachnik of HP narrates this video, produced in the era when HP was still marketing the server as a more reliable and mature choice than HP's Windows and Unix servers. Well, the vendor never really did make much of a direct comparison, even though its sales force and customers were doing just such a compare.

If you've never seen this, we won't spoil the ending. But HP 3000 customers know that the hardware which makes up their system was built far beyond the survival specs of, say, a Dell Windows 2003 server. How many servers you will need to toss off the roof of a building is an exercise we'll leave to our readers.

We invite you to share your own 3000 survival stories through the Comments link below. We'll compile what you post up as a blog entry for the future. Stay tuned to this channel for future NewsWire TV reports. Coming up: Clips from HP CEO Mark Hurd's keynote speech at the HP Technology Forum.

Software slices bakery's migration problems

Migrations are going to earn a reputation over the next two years as the hardest work many HP 3000 shops have ever accomplished. 3000 sites don't have deep IT staffs, in many cases. That's why having a software solution work right out of the wrapper can be a blessing during the hard times of migration.

Dan Coyle, the VP of MIS at regional bakery Lewis Bakeries, had that "works as promised" experience with Viking Software's Viking Data Entry (VDE) system. The applications hosted at the bakery's IT shop serve four different divisions. Some of the work is heads-down data entry, as Coyle calls it. The work flowed through DE/3000, a data-entry front end app whose vendor had gone out of business. The bakery found VDE for the HP-UX system that it's preparing to replace its HP 3000. But VDE eventually went to work in a Windows environment, one reason the software suits Coyle so well. Itanium's nuances didn't slow down the Viking solution — not like the Itanium problems that the two-person IT staff at Lewis had to knock out over the summer.

The Itanium-based HP-UX applications at Lewis Bakeries receive their data from VDE, Coyle said, using Samba as its intermediate file server mechanism. "You create a mapped drive under Samba and point your PC at that drive," Coyle explained. "When you click on that icon, it goes right into the Unix system. It's one of the cooler programs."

The architecture which lets a Windows software front-end serve HP-UX apps is an example of how a vendor with an established specialty, like Viking, can help 3000 shops set and forget some segments of a migration. Lewis has a lot of segments to consider when moving its application, created in 1989.

Continue reading "Software slices bakery's migration problems " »