Two hours' advice on moving to twisted pair
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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).

For those happy administrators fortunate enough to be taking care of A-Class or N-Class HP3000s, the SWC facility is built right into the HP3000 box.

All that’s required is to simply plug a network cable from the remote-console-labelled RJ45 connector at the back of the HP3000 to an available network hub or switch port and then to appropriately configure the SWC IP address, subnet mask, gateway address, permitted user names and passwords — and away you go.

For those cases with built-in SWC capability, one can utilize both the physical console and remote console simultaneously, although only one would have “control” over console command input.

For all other HP3000s there is the external HP Secure Web Console, Part No. J3591A.

This little device looks very much like an external HP Jetdirect box that is commonly used to provide network printing capabilities to printers lacking internal networking plumbing, if you will.

The external HP SWC comprises an RS232 serial port that is used to attach the console serial port to, a 10Base-T RJ45 network port that connects the SWC to the network hub or switch via Cat 5 network cable, and a power port that is used to provide electrical power to the device.

Unlike the built-in SWC, which is communicated to via telnet, the external SWC requires a network browser, such as Internet Explorer, to access it (or perhaps the Firefox browser, for a more secure experience.)

For additional security, the SWC (both internal and external) should have its IP address in a network segment range corresponding to the internal side of a virtual private network (VPN).

The external SWC is firmware upgradeable and the latest version is A2.0.

Once you’ve experienced the convenience of the remote console capability associated with the SWC, you will wonder how you could ever manage without one.

For anyone interested in obtaining an external SWC and having it set up, flashed to its latest firmware version and properly configured, please contact me at [email protected] or 905-889-3000.