HP informed the 3000 user community that the MPE/iX 7.5 PowerPatch deadline is hard upon the 3000 lab, and there are more than 30 beta-test patches still not qualified to be included in the PowerPatch. Tests of PowerPatches must be completed by customers on HP support. The 7.5 patches can only be tested on a subset of the 3000 installed base: any server released before the 9x8 systems won't be able to run 7.5.
HP's Jeff Vance sent a message about the beta limbo to the 3000-L newsgroup and OpenMPE mailing list today. He pointed out the many possible testing prospects — customers who asked for enhancements, customers who voted for an enhancement via the Systems Improvement Ballots of 2003 and 2004.
(Yes, some of these enhancements are still not in General Release status, more than three years after a customer's request. Time moves slower in the 3000 community; many customers are still running a 6.5 version of MPE/iX, or even earlier releases.)
HP's 3000 labs may be frustrated about the lack of response to its engineering work. Vance said:
If you have requested, installed but not provided HP feedback please do so ASAP, and thanks!
If you have requested a BT patch but have not installed it please do so ASAP and let us know how it works.
If you voted for one of the many SIB items which are stuck in beta-test, waiting to become GR patches, and have not requested any of these patches, please do so ASAP.
It really doesn’t do the user community much good to have a bunch of MPE enhancements stuck in beta-test, maybe never to see the light of day...
HP's Jazz Web site contains the IDs for all of the BT patches. This work hasn't been very popular with testers in the 3000 community, but it could be much more so if some of HP's patch processes were changed. A testing policy that allowed non-support customers to request, install and report on the work would expand the test base. There are 33 patches listed on the 7.5 Web page. Six are enhancements to the Large Disk feature added to the HP 3000, which supports disks up to a half-terabyte.
Even though these patches might not make it into this PowerPatch for 7.5, there's probably another opportunity for them to enter a later PowerPatch. HP has plans for a PowerPatch on a yearly basis for each of its supported operating systems. With more than two and half years left of HP support, 7.5 hasn't seen its last PowerPatch, we'd bet.
The bigger issue: the pall this user disinterest casts over newer projects in the HP 3000 labs. If the lab chief Ross McDonald and other managers see that their prior work can't get out of testing, what might that do to further enhancements' chances.
HP support customers need to break this Catch-22 chain. Yes, 29 of the 33 patches require a reboot, something that a 7.5 system might not be able to accomodate without a break in computer services. Even scheduled downtime can be difficult to work into a company with a 24x7 requirement.
Patches in limbo in the HP 3000 labs now number more than 80, across 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5. Some resolve system aborts and large file corruption, and others are as simple as making DISCFREE report correct numbers for the Large Disk enhancements. The full field of useful HP 3000s can test the 6.5 patches. As for the others, a customer will need to have a newer system, ready to survive a crash, abort or some unexpected behavior.
It seems possible that HP might have to revise its beta test expectations if it wants to free up these 80-plus patches. In the meantime, maybe the user community can show some good faith by testing up the seven-patch package for the Large Disk enhancements. We've heard it doesn't take too many beta reports these days to spring an enhancement from patch jail.