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June 30, 2006

User group seeks sponsors for future

Whether migrating away from 3000-based ERP or sticking with a known application, customers who manage manufacturing will gather in San Francisco for this year's CAMUS annual meeting. The user group is seeking sponsors for its event at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency. Sponsors make a conference possible if the user group is to offer more than chairs and experts speaking at the front of a hotel meeting room.

Not to say that kind of un-sponsored meeting can't be productive. The world's top scientists and academics gather without much in the way of sponsorship — although even the Association of Writers and Writing Programs had a vast bookfair at its conference in our hometown this spring.

CAMUS is holding a three-day event starting August 23, inviting sponsors to exhibit from 5 PM the first evening through 12:30 on August 25. A CAMUS member can exhibit for $500, while non-members pay $650 for the standard 10-by-10 space. CAMUS says it's expecting 100 attendees this year.

There's also a half-dozen afternoon time slots available for presentations and demos at $200 each. At the top of the sponsorship tree, there's a $5,000 Event Night Thursday, a "night out in San Francisco." Most of the other opportunities are well under $1,000.

The deadline to sign up for an exhibit space is July 14. Housing requests — CAMUS wants all of its attendees to stay at the Hyatt to fill up the group's block of rooms — must be received by August 1. The latest conference information is at www.camus.org.

09:50 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 29, 2006

Kill a job, if it's already running

We have loads of jobs that would cause damage if more than one copy was run. To prevent this we have the following code at the start of them:

  !if jobcnt('jobname,user.account') > 1 then
  !  tellop WARNING: Job is already running. I'm terminating.
  !  eoj
  !  endif

A couple of system problems have resulted in a large backlog of jobs waiting to run. One of our jobs is never getting past the above check — because by the time it moves from WAIT to EXEC, our scheduler has streamed the next copy which joins the WAIT queue.

One way I can see around this is to do the following instead (we have VEsoft's MPEX):

  !setjcw mpexfaststart 1
  %if jscount('jobname,user.account&EXEC') > 1 then
  %  tellop WARNING: Job is already running. I'm terminating.
  %  eoj
  %  endif
  !setjcw mpexfaststart 0

But how do we terminate a job already running, if we don't have MPEX?

Tony Summers replies:

One method is to build a file at the start of each job and/or check for the file's existence in the same job.

Here’s a clip (MPE information removed for security) of one of our job streams that ensures that certain jobs run in a particular order, but there are ways of adapting it to suit your requirement.

Also remember that a job will normally flush/terminate if any line of JCL fails — thus it might be just as effective to build a named file at the start of the job and purge it as the job logs off. You have to ensure that autocontinue is NOT turned on.

!comment start up
!IF  NOT FINFO("STEODPT6.group.account",0)
!    UDCFAIL "Part 6 has not run "
!    EOJ
!IF  FINFO("SEEODPT6.group.account",0)
!    UDCFAIL "Part 6 did not complete "
!    EOJ
!BUILD STEODPT7.group.account
!BUILD SEEODPT7.group.account
!comment <add your code here >
!PURGE SEEODPT7.group.account

09:54 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 28, 2006

Extending COBOL to .NET and Java

COBOL remains a standard in business computing, but those who provide it need to keep extending that standard with flexible features. Among the major providers of COBOL for the migrating 3000 customer, Acucorp did its work long ago to build a compiler most like the MPE/iX environment. The vendor began to build its products for the 3000 before HP announced it would leave the community. Acucorp set out to build a COBOL creation environment to replace COBOL II on an HP 3000.

That work began six years ago, so the product needed to keep evolving to draw the attention of a community in transition. This week Acucorp rolled out the 7.2 version of extend, its family of compiler, SQL preprocessor, thin client and development environment. The latest version connects COBOL developers with their counterparts in the worlds of .NET and Java.

Acucorp's David Thompson, chief solutions architect, says the company added an API and compiler options to interface with .NET and Java because customers have projects underway using that language or architecture. COBOL business systems — the ones that customers like banking and asset ISV CASE moved to HP-UX — needed a way to connect to Java and .NET without the need for code to call the COBOL programs.

This extend version brings Acucorp's customers into other environments as well. The family gets its first SQL pre-compiler, AcuSQL, to let developers in the Linux environment retrieve data from MySQL. The MySQL database, free except for whatever support you buy along with it, is also popular in the Windows environment and on some Unix systems.

Support of Linux outside the US is growing even faster than Stateside. Germany has mandated that its government applications be written to Linux, according to Thompson, and South American markets have embraced Linux as well.

Lots of other SQL databases have pre-compilers of their own, Thompson added, software that Acucorp recommends customers use. A database vendor can optimize a pre-compiler for COBOL better than any compiler maker, he explained. But since MySQL is an open source solution, Acucorp stepped up to create its own pre-compiler. AcuSQL is an add-on, separate-charge module of extend.

extend version 7.2 also has a free sort utility included. Acusort performs sorts and mreges on any binary, line sequential or Vision file from the command line or control file. Acucorp says the feature makes it easier for developers migrating from other COBOL environments — where they might have a favorite standalone sort tool — to step into the ACUCOBOL-GT development system.

Plenty of HP 3000 shops want to move their COBOL apps, rather than adopt a new package. They usually ponder between AcuCOBOL and MicroFocus COBOL, according to Thompson. "The major difference between us, in the customer's eye, is that there's way less of a degree of change moving to AcuCOBOL," Thompson said.

That's evidence that Acucorp has been studying the 3000 customer's use of COBOL longer than the competition. Minimizing change could be a welcome byproduct of any migration.

06:10 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 27, 2006

Linux means low bucks for KOBOL

So long as spelling the 3000 community's favorite computer language with a K doesn't bother you, the price of a COBOL compiler on the Linux platform can be a bargain compared to what you'll recall from HP's 3000 world. While COBOL II from HP cost several thousand dollars to fire up on any HP 3000, KOBOL, with an MPE module from theKompany.com, costs just $259, period. Oh, and if you want that KOBOL product in a box, instead of a download, it's an extra $15.

What's up with this pricing, even if it is just a single developer license? How can any company, even theKompany, make a living off $60 compilers and $199 specialized platform (HP 3000) modules? It's all just part of the rules for the Linux enterprise space, where the operating system can often be free (as in beer) with applications and tools not much more.

Last month we interviewed Matt Perdue, an OpenMPE board member and owner of Hillcountry.net, an ISP and consulting practice. The latter practice serves HP 3000 customers across several industries, both those migrating as well as homesteaders. Perdue had a direct answer to our question "Which platform looks like a good fit for the 3000 customer who’s got to migrate?"

"Linux," he said. "Running on anything."

theKompany is run by Shawn Gordon, former 3000 NewsWire reviewer and COBOL columnist and an app developer for the MPE community. We asked if anybody has ever used KOBOL in conjunction with a 3000 application, or for moving apps off their MPE/iX system.

"I know a few people that were doing it," he said. "One company flew me out to help walk them through it; we had the first app ported in 10 minutes. If you use Eloquence and you're not using [VPlus] it's really quick."

We know, if you're not using VPlus then things can be a lot faster in any migration process, regardless of what platform you're choosing or which compiler. [ScreenJet, of course, speeds the VPlus migration.] But it's still hard to imagine any COBOL less costly that is supported.

Cost isn't everything, but sometimes heading to Linux demands that all pieces of the solution must pass under a lower budget bar. There are other, better-known Linux compilers for HP 3000 customers migrating to that platform. We'll talk about one of those leading solutions tomorrow.

07:25 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Buck up your HP Tech Forum experience

Photosmart335_2 Call center marketers heated up their phones — and yours — this morning to promote this year's HP Technology Forum, the Encompass-HP-OpenView user group event in Houston. We plugged the pre-conference HP-UX training session last week, but didn't note every type of discount to get into the only pan-HP event of the year.

My telemarketer told me this afternoon I had three ways to save money on registration, including becoming an Encompass member for $90. Most interesting? The extra discount you'll get for signing up by July 15 (a Saturday, by the way). Encompass will give the early birds 100 "HP Bucks," good for products at the store HP runs at HP.com.

You'll get the extra bonus by entering the promotional code HPBUCKS when you register online. HP is a full partner in this conference, much more so than it ever was for the Interex North American conferences of 2004 and earlier. That makes sense when you see the attendees and lineup of sessions. Plenty of HP sales training and presales tech briefings go on at the Technology Forum. It benefits these Americas Presales employees if customers are on hand at the same venue.

Does it say something unseemly about a user group conference when a vendor is involved at this level? Not if survival of the event is the primary goal. (There can be other goals, of course, but primary survival is something Interex placed at risk last year; hence, no HP World 2005.) Still, an event where independence is the top goal will struggle to get a bonus donated from HP — albeit a self-promoting one, since these bucks drive the early birds to the HP online store.

Migration customers from the 3000 community will find more to use from the conference. The Forum isn't aiming to serve the needs of the 3000 customer homesteading on the platform. We'd like to be wrong about that — there's still time for sessions to emerge that would teach 3000 skills. But it looks like the Houston-based conference two months later, the GHRUG event at Clear Lake, is going to be the pan-3000 event for 2006.

What can you buy at HP.com for 100 bucks? Well, there's the HP PhotoSmart 335 photo printer for $99, although the fine print cautions buyers that you can't use extra promotions on the purchase of this little gimcrack. It would be too bad if the only thing those bucks could buy was a discount on something like an HP disk drive, or a support contract. But perhaps that might be the best thing for an IT department.

Still, you might want to bribe, er, influence your manager to let you go to Houston and the conference by promising her a swell color printer.

There are other reasons for going to Houston this fall, anyway. For one, the Astros are in town for the week and are likely to playing meaningful games, if you're a baseball fan. (Playing the Cardinals, no less, some must-win games for the home team, over the weekend. You may do better getting tickets for the Reds series during the week.)

If you're a more bookish type, you can browse the independent aisles of Brazos Bookstore. This palace of the printed word, descibed in the NY Times today as "Houston's premier literary marketplace and a mecca for touring authors since 1974," just announced that it will keep its doors open after a threatened shutdown. A mere $275,000 kept the Brazos from folding. That's less than what you're likely to spend on a HP 3000 migration. You could have been in the book business instead.

07:29 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

Acquire HP-UX best practices

Many an HP 3000 customer must migrate, at the direction of their application gurus or senior management. If Unix is your destination, you may be faced with training your HP 3000 staff in Unix administration. There are several ways to do this; the HP enterprise user group Encompass just added another.

Encompass is offering a one-day, 8:30-4 drill on HP-UX SysAdmin Best Practices on Sept. 17 in Houston, one day before this year's HP Technology Forum begins. The course's 6-plus hours are taught by Bill Hassell, the HP community's Unix guru formerly with HP (for more than two decades, include Response Center support service). Hassell is operating his own training company, Bill Hassell Consulting.

Hassell's training courses remain in the HP class lineup for Unix, too. Online HP-UX courses at the HP Education Web site, which we reviewed in the NewsWire back when they first appeared in 2003, include two modules credited to Hassell. HP's charging a total  of just under $1,000 for taking those courses over the Internet. The cost for the Encompass course, in-person, is less than half that much, if you're a user group member. (Of course, you have to factor in the travel and time away from the IT shop, if you're estimating budget.)

The details on the Hassell course offered at the Tech Forum say that it is aimed at "System Administrators, IT Managers, or Database Administrators." The $450 charge for the course promises to deliver "timesaving techniques as well as security measures to prevent mistakes" and "many undocumented or obscure techniques for managing HP-UX."

The $450 rate is only available to Encompass members; that's a $90 charge, but it also earns the IT pro going to Houston a discount on the conference (list price is $1,195 for that event, separate from the cost for HP-UX SysAdmin Best Practices.)

Training has value, as does every kind of education; information from experienced trainers is rarely even close to free. HP offers those online courses for free since 2003. (A magic code HP distributed to every 3000 customer that HP could find earned free admission to the courses, as our reviewer John Burke noted back in 2003.)

HP-UX administration might be something your company is lucky enough to have on hand already. If not, a course like this is a good investment in your mission-critical business applications if you're migrating.

05:54 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006

Tools to care for new databases

Moving away from IMAGE? If your plans don't include Marxmeier Software's Eloquence, then the database administrator is in for a lot of changes, or it's time to turn over the reins to somebody else to drive the database stage. While Eloquence has been crafted to work like IMAGE, the other database choices need different management tools. Several names familiar to 3000 managers have stepped up to offer what's needed.

Bradmark, which has a long history providing DBGENERAL for IMAGE/SQL, is providing Surveillance for Sybase version 3.0.4. Key enhancements include Sybase MDA table monitoring, Adaptive Server Enterprise 15 native support, Windows Event Log Monitoring, Windows Service Monitoring, and Enhanced User Defined Collections.

Bradmark says it worked closely with Sybase on development; the two companies inked a pact in 2005 that lets Sybase sell the Bradmark products directly. Surveillance for Sybase made its debut last year.

The Bradmark product "provides a real-time view of database activity and detailed performance metrics for the Sybase ASE environment," according to a company release. The software gives detailed statistics on session and process activity, locked sessions, batch contention and file IO, all of which can be viewed simultaneously for multiple databases. Surveillance is configured to look for error conditions or performance issues and send alerts to the database admin team as well as to initiate scripts to correct problems.

Sybase isn't as popular a choice for SQL databases as Microsoft's SQL Server or Oracle. The company's Mark Westover said his firm, which was once one of the Big Four of SQL (the others were Informix, Oracle and SQL Server) "has consciously walked away not from markets, but parts of the whole solution – and enabled our partners to offer professional services to fill in the remainder of the whole solution."

In that vein of thought, the 3000 community has vendor partners serving the more popular SQL markets, too.

Quest Software, which created the NetBase system shadowing and replication suite for MPE/iX, continues in, well, its quest to make SQL Server databases easier to use. After its products such as LiteSpeed, Spotlight, Toad and Capacity Manager, the new Quest Comparison Suite "simplifies the manual, time-intensive tasks associated with SQL Server management,” according to product manager Kevin Kline.

Quest the suite with three new tools. They let DBAs  compare and synchronize the schema, data and server settings of two SQL Server environments. These kinds of tools help speed up tasks around verifying database replication processes, server setting migrations and version control, all issues in the world of SQL database altenatives to IMAGE.

Quest Comparison Suite includes: Quest SchemaCompare, for identifying, scripting and synchronizing schema differences between two database structures; Quest ServerCompare, for identifying, scripting and deploying server settings (configurations, DTS packages and logins) between two environments; and Quest DataCompare, for identifying, scripting and inserting data to synchronize the contents of two databases.

08:12 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 21, 2006

Feel secure using crypto on 3000s

It's easy to forget how much the 3000 community — system maker, vendors and users all together — delivered to the MPE/iX experience. Ask if there's a cryptography solution for the 3000, you'll likely hear that the platform never made it to that functionality milestone. Not exactly true.

Although the cost of the solution might make a company think hard, the 3000 has the B-SAFE SSL-C toolkit ported to MPE/iX. The software itself, tested up and posted by HP, is available for free from the HP Jazz Web site. If you're wondering what in the world B-SAFE has to do with encryption, you might start with a few PowerPoint slides from HP at the Jazz server.

A customer needs this capability, more than five years after HP took its steps to make it available, if not affordable. (The cost revolves around the encryption license from RSA). But a customer doesn't want to push their encrypted data around any more than absolutely necessary (good idea). The customer asked about something that's been on the 3000's shelf since we first reported on it in 2000.

I’m looking for an easy way to read RSA encrypted data and translate it into something meaningful on the 3000. I don’t want to send it to another machine, have it decrypted and then move it back to the 3000.

The path to the solution isn't exactly straightforward, but it does reside on an HP server. Much like the situation we all expected to be in at the end of this year, HP won't stand behind such freeware. To get the software you have to agree to HP's following freeware conditions:

  • This software and documentation is NOT supported by HP.
  • HP may or may not offer a version of this software and documentation as a product in the future. (Here we're likely to bet, "not at any time in our lifetime')
  • This software has been minimally tested for installability and use on MPE/iX but has not been subjected to HP's product-level testing and quality control.
  • HP makes no committment to provide enhancements or fixes to the software or documentation or to fix problems encountered while running the software.
  • This software may be altered or removed at any time.
  • The software and documentation is provided "as is". HP does not warrant that the use, reproduction, modification or distribution of the software or documentation will not infringe a third party's intellectual property rights. HP does not warrant that the software or documentation is error free. HP disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with regard to the software and the documentation. HP specifically disclaims all warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.
  • HP will not in any event be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages (including lost profits) related to any use, reproduction, modification, or distribution of the software or documentation.

The lack of HP support might not bother a customer. Plenty of other sources can be engaged for that from the third party community. The pricing might be an issue, but where security is concerned, extra budget can be found. Years ago, Gavin Scott of Allegro issued a price caveat about using SSL-C solutions:

It’s my impression that the licensing fees for actually using this stuff in a production application are, um, high, so you might want to investigate the details before planning on using this stuff in an application or a product for sale.

02:32 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

UK users make migration meeting

ScreenJet's Alan Yeo reports that the planned migration update meeting for HP 3000 customers in the UK gathered as hoped-for today. Several prior attempts by HP to corral 3000 managers to preach the migration mantra had failed in Europe, including at least one scheduled at a resort.

This year the European experts tackled the problem a different way. Rather than upgrade the venue, those with migration advice beefed up the speaker list with genuine experience. Acucorp hosted the meeting at an HP office in England, picking up much of the expense. Customers could report they were guests of Acucorp, makers of the most 3000-compatible COBOL for other platforms — and get in free.

The attendance shows much of the customer base in the 3000 world is still well short of migration success. (A serious share of customers have no plan to leave the platform at all, but that's a subject for another day.)

Platinum partners such as MB Foster, Speedware and other firms like Transoft, as well as the makers of their tools like Acucorp, Marxmeier and ScreenJet — they're all staying busier this year to get projects underway at many sites. Although it's already 2006, it's still early in the calendar for many HP 3000 owners who must migrate. Gathering them for a day's instruction on technique, rather than a gorgeous round of golf, seems to have worked better this summer.

08:16 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Legacy ERP gets new validation

MANMAN, the venerable ERP application used by hundreds of HP 3000 customers even today, has a new validation. Crawford Software, an independent consulting firm that specializes in HP 3000s and VAX implementations of MANMAN, said one of their medical device manufacturing clients has had MANMAN validated for use in projects submitted for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

The subject surfaced on the MANMAN mailing list while Terry Simpkins was asking if MANMAN had ever been FDA validated. Terri Glendon Lanza, another MANMAN specialist, reported that a client of hers brought in outside test experts to earn their validation:

They undertook this task by contracting a specialist from a validation vendor. The site's IT staff ran many tests that showed the inputs generated the expected outputs. The consultant audited these tests, signed off, and wrote all the reports to submit for certification.

The tests generated several thousand pages of log captures and screen prints which went into binders. These are used when customers ask to see their validation records.

Nothing has happened to change HP's march away from the HP 3000 market. But the users of MANMAN seem to be among those slowest to follow HP's recommended footsteps. ERP apps are complex, costly and take years to move. Companies like Crawford, Lanza's ASK Terri and the Support Group inc. still make a lively business of writing software and consulting to the MANMAN community. Some are migrating. Many are staying quite awhile; some have no plans to move.

It's important to note that Crawford's FDA-validated client is running MANMAN on a VAX system from Digital — er, HP, now. But the HP 3000 verson of MANMAN has been and can be validated by the FDA. Keeping pace with outside organizations' IT demands — that's a mark of a well-engineered system, run by IT professionals. HP 3000 customers can be confident that if they can blaze a trail through the paperwork, their systems will stand up to Federal scrutiny.

06:29 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 16, 2006

New Reflection, new focus, new company name

A new version of the redoubtable connnectivity app Reflection was announced this week, the news coming from a company now named AttachmateWRQ. Yes, those last three letters will look familiar to the HP 3000 community, and the rest of the company name reflects the acquisition and merger that took place earlier this year.

On to one new version of the software. The company's Reflection product manager was quoted in Database Trends as saying "These releases have a lot of new security capabilities, and support for new platforms." AttachmateWRQ (I'll get used to adding those 10 letters soon enough; I was reporting on this firm when it was called Walker, Richer & Quinn) understands that its customers need secure network connnections. Reflection for Secure IT proposes a new standard for connectivity applications. But it doesn't appear to have a 3000-specific release; instead the vendor is offering Secure IT in Windows Client, Windows Server, Unix Client, Unix Server and IBM mainframe (z/OS) versions.

New features in the 14.x desktop application include simplified certificate management with Reflection Certificate Manager; acceptance of single sign-on (SSO) authentication certificates with Reflection Key Agent; and integrated multi-host SSH configuration support.

Attachmate brought a larger share of IBM customers to the merged entity, so the new version also includes support for IBM Express Logon Feature (ELF), which enables certificate authentication and SSO for mainframe sessions. Automatic Kerberos sign-on enables users to access IBM iSeries hosts using Windows credentials or any Kerberos ticket available to Java.

Reflection for Secure IT is validated for Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2, It's also certified for compliance with Department of Defense (DoD) Class 3 Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Public Key-Enabled (PKE) application requirements.

The company has a nifty and well-detailed PDF file on whether you need to upgrade your versions of Reflection, based on new features. The table covers releases 11.x through the latest, 14.x, for IBM, Unix, VMS and yes, the HP 3000 (Reflection for HP with NS/VT). New 14.x features from the chart:

  • Support for Microsoft Windows XP x64 Edition
  • Reflection Certificate Manager
  • Reflection Key Agent accepts certificates for single sign-on authentication
  • Secure Shell connection reuse
  • Integrated multi-hop SSH configuration support
  • Smart card support through PKCS #11 interface

If it's been a good long while since Reflection got an upgrade at your 3000 site — the upgrades are free with a maintenance contract — the vendor has supplied this list of key features which your NS/VT version does not have:

• Industry-standard scripting with VBA
• Ability to save settings and record macros in XML
• Data protection with:
- Integrated Kerberos client
- SSL/TLS Telnet encryption
- Integrated SSH Client (works with Reflection FTP Client)
• Authentication and encryption enhancements
• Integrated Reflection security components
• Ability to update deployed settings files
• Designed for Windows XP–Optimized logo
• Migration of settings to and from Reflection for the Web
• Windows XP theme manager
• One easy-to-access location for all management tools

04:57 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

The new, independent 3000 training begins

Veteran MPE trainers Paul Edwards and Frank Alden Smith are hunting this summer, searching for three IT professionals who want to learn more about running the HP 3000. Edwards and Smith have announced their first class at MPE-Education.com. HP has agreed to let Edwards and Smith overhaul the HP class materials for MPE Fundamentals as the duo's first step into independent, HP authorized training.

MPE-Education.com becomes the hub for 3000 training as of this week, since HP has called off its training courses for the platform. Many companies still have years of HP 3000 use in front of them. Considering how many 3000 customers have cut back on in-house 3000 expertise, fundamentals training could show some promise.

Edwards and Smith aren't looking for much to begin. They say they need three students for the first course to make. It will be offered online, using Virtual Classroom software. HP 3000 customers got a peek at this courseware last summer when OpenMPE conducted its 2005 meeting using the PC-based application.

A joint venture of Smith's Alden Research and Paul Edwards & Associates, MPE-Education.com had to rework and update HP's materials to get the MPE Fundamentals class ready. The company is also planning to offer on-site training, as well as staging classes around the US.

"The original training materials have undergone an extensive review and revitalization," according to a press release from MPE-Education.com. The five-day MPE Fundamentals course date is July 24-28, 2006 at a cost of $1,750 per person.

It will be held using the new Virtual Classroom Environment, VCE, which uses an instructor led, Web-based format. This format eliminates the cost and work disruption of travel to a classroom site. Registration and course details are available on the www.mpe-education.com web site. Full payment must be received one week prior to the start of the class for each student enrolled. A minimum of three students is required to commence the class.

More course offerings will be available as the materials review process progresses and the community interest in MPE training continues. Next up on the list appears to be MPE/iX system management; the educational firm also has plans for MPE/iX network administration, MPE/iX performance and tuning, and TurboIMAGE and IMAGE/SQL

06:27 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 14, 2006

New blades from HP are C-class

HP's Webcast of this morning rolled out a new line of hardware in its BladeSystem server family, products that HP believes make changing an enterprise on the fly easier than ever.

These C-class blade systems pre-integrate networking, power and cooling and management into a consolidated datacenter architecture. HP says its new c-Class portfolio "enables customers to deploy application environments on the fly, set and meet power budgets, and increase administrative productivity. The revolutionary architecture is focused on innovating three key areas — virtualization, power and cooling, and management — a combination that delivers ground-breaking capabilities and cost savings."

The HP announcement included three specific innovations for the hardware, expected to begin shipping next month:

  • Virtual Connect Architecture, to solve networking complexity challenges and simplify operations.
  • HP Thermal Logic Technologies, to help customers to maximize their power budget and ensure application availability with monitoring at the component, enclosure and rack levels.
  • HP Insight Control Management, so the HP BladeSystem c-Class integrates into HP’s Unified Infrastructure Management. The vendor is also offering optional Essentials software plug-ins to manage servers and storage from a single console

HP said the innovations of "the new HP BladeSystem enables user to wire computing resources once and change them on the fly, dynamically adjust power and cooling to reduce energy consumption, and increase administrative productivity up to tenfold."

10:43 PM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 13, 2006

Happy First Anniversary, NewsWire Blog

One year ago today, we began publishing every workday here at the NewsWire's blog. After 270 online stories, and many reader comments and contributions, I'm pleased to say our online outreach is a success. Sponsors make this free information service possible, just as they continue to play a role in our quarterly printed issues. Like Abby and I here at the NewsWire, these companies believe in a continued community for 3000 owners, advocates and managers — whether they are leaving the platform in a detail-driven migration, or preparing for a transition to an HP-free 3000 community.

You were ready for this kind of information stream, by the looks of your response and use of it. Our 3000newswire.com gateway to this blog is No. 1 in Google's ranking for "HP 3000 news." Oh yeah, you can get to this blog from that Web address that's been running 3000 news for more than 10 years. The past two weeks of headlines is always online, out on our Web page. But you can bookmark this address, too.

Abby and I would like to thank everyone who's supported, helped and believed in our transition to bring you news faster than printed pages. An anniversary deserves a podcast, and that's coming up soon. But in the meantime, to deliver some useful news on an anniversary day, let me mention a strategic Webcast HP is having tomorrow.

Tomorrow, June 14 at 8:30 PDT (11:30 Eastern time, US), HP Executive Vice President Ann Livermore launches a new modular infrastructure portfolio and unveils an agenda for modular IT design. The live show begins at www.hp.com/go/hplive

HP is calling this presentation "The Datacenter Revolution." Even if you're already in a revolution over the changes to your 3000 community, you may want to look in on this show if you're staying with HP while migrating. Get to the site at least 15 minutes before the start time. Last time HP did a show like this one over the Web, it was over-subscribed by the time it kicked off.

08:12 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

ERP advice to land near SFO

The ERP user group CAMUS has announced a terminal for its 2006 user conference, although the meeting may not be the last the group produces. CAMUS is calling its members, and ERP users of MANMAN and MK application suites, to the San Francisco airport's Hyatt Regency hotel for a three-day meeting — including a free day of training.

From August 23-25, CAMUS is hosting "Coming Home," the latest installment of a conference where organizers say training has become the top draw. Instructors include experts from Entsgo and the Support Group inc., the "go" and "stay" divisions of the Austin-based Support Group enterprises. Terri Glendon Lanza, MANMAN expert and founder of ASK TERRI, is also listed on the conference's first postcard to arrive.

The conference has attracted good support from the 3000 community, reporting that Pivital Solutions, the Support Group and ASK TERRI are all Associate Partners. An initial conference brochure at the CAMUS Web site says the user group expects about 100 attendees. Floyd, who's on the CAMUS board, told us last fall that this year is a crucial one for the user group to decide about any conferences in 2007 and beyond.

Adding a new wrinkle to a conference about ERP applications as mature as MANMAN isn't easy, but the CAMUS organizers are offering a Free Training Day, morning and afternoon, on August 23 starting at 9 AM. CAMUS says trainers for the Day volunteered their time to serve the community all day “to solve particularly intricate issues offline and lead focus groups of 3-5 people who need extra in-depth training in particular areas. It’s impossible to teach all of MANMAN or MK in one day, but this schedule is amazing, with three [meeting] rooms going at all times throughout the day.”

The first draft of the conference agenda “will be ready for distribution in late Mid-June," a timeframe that might be translated to "in a week or so" from today. After that it will be updated on a regular basis at the CAMUS site and will include session abstracts.

Early bird registration is $300 for a conference being pitched to both migrating and homesteading HP 3000 sites. "Learn the lessons and tricks they have learned to help you in your migration or homesteading," the postcard promises. Early bird rates end June 30; rooms at the Hyatt in the CAMUS block must be reserved by August 1.

Training on MANMAN and MK (an OpenVMS ERP app) is being led by:

David Cervelli, Strategic Systems Groups, Inc.
Terri Glendon Lanza, ASK TERRI
Chris Jones, Ask On Consulting Service
Alice West, Aware Consulting
Robert Bruce, the Support Group, Inc.
Terry Floyd, the Support Group, Inc.
Susan Kiezel, Entsgo, Inc.
Leslie Lushbaugh, Business Systems Consulting
Tim Peer, eNVy Systems, Inc.

08:30 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

User group still looking for candidates

Encompass, the user group for enterprise HP and Compaq computer customers and partners, has extended its deadline for board of director candidate nominations. A few weeks back, today was supposed to the be the deadline for tossing your hat into the ring. Now the deadline for applying to the nominations committee is next Friday, June 16.

The user group might have been underwhelmed with the response during late May to its call for candidates. The Encompass board has terms of three of its seats expiring this December. Two of the sitting board members can run for re-election. Encompass members will hear on July 1 who will be running for board slots; that's when the Nominations Committee releases its approved candidate list.

HP 3000 interests are being served on the Encompass board already. Chris Koppe, marketing director for HP Platinum Migration partner Speedware, sits on the board. Encompass is a group of more than 8,000 members, and its leadership wants Interex volunteers to join and help the user group. Those are the same goals of OpenMPE, the advocacy group which also had an election during the past 12 months. Want to guess which group had more ballots cast in its vote?

The tally, according to Encompass and OpenMPE figures, is OpenMPE 111, Encompass 106. Close to one in three OpenMPE members voted in the March elections. Okay, it's not a contest — but the numbers do show how few people decide on the leadership of user groups these days. Any user group. During its final year of operation, Interex couldn't get 200 people to vote on its board election.

Any volunteer who wants to run in the Encompass election can also earn a spot on the ballot by petition, with  surprisingly modest number of signatures. From the Encompass Web site:

Q: How many signed petitions are required for nomination by petition?

A: Per Section 2.1 of the Encompass By-Laws, nomination by petition calls for signatures equal in number to at least fifteen percent (15%) of the number of members who voted in the preceding election, or 50 members, whichever is higher. Fifteen percent of the 106 members who voted in the previous election is 15.9, so 50 signed petitions are required for nomination by petition.

The nomination by petition deadline is August 23. The date of the annual meeting of Encompass at its HP Technology Forum show. The balloting takes place in October.

Some 3000 community members wonder what Encompass has to offer the HP 3000 user. The group has embraced the Itanium Special Interest Group of Interex, which was re-named the Integrity SIG "because people think of the box, not the processor," according to an HP employee at last year's SIG meeting.

There's also an Enterprise Unix SIG in Encompass, dedicated to the questions and needs of those managers just taking on administration and care of a Unix platform.

As for HP 3000 help not related to migration, the user group is still working on that offering. However, it's got a fine representation of the papers presented at the final two Interex conferences regarding HP 3000s. You've got to join at an Individual Level to get access to these papers, but there's nowhere else to find them now that Interex has gone bankrupt and wiped its servers.

User groups are old-school networking, but that's a good match with the 3000 community. If the user base expects help and education for non-migrating 3000 customers, there would be no better way to nudge that along than being on the group's board. Three-year term, one-hour conference call per month, one weekend face-to-face meeting a quarter, 10 hours a month of work, plus attending the annual HP Technology Forum, where Encompass meets.

You can apply to run at the Encompass Web site. And if last year's voting turnout is any measure, perhaps only 55 of your friends who are members of Encompass could earn you a seat on that board.

10:02 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

3000 community with a sense of humor

Even along the dire and troubling trail of HP 3000 transition, we can find those who wink at the trouble and muster along with a smile.

Out in the Hawaiian islands for a elite conference, OpenMPE chair Birket Foster sent us this photo, with a statement:

"Who knows what the future will bring, but I knew you would like this in the 'Image Bank:' "

And over at the GREBs Lab, where the playful Advant crew wants to unlock the horsepower of the latest HP 3000 models with its SSEDIT code, we got this message from "Captain Grebs;"

"One of the more poetic HP 3000 users sent this to us. Thought you might get a kick out of it. It's based on the theme from Underdog:"

When licensed resellers are still here
To prey on those still needing '3000 gear
whose complaints fall on HP's unresponsive ear
The cry goes up both far and near
For Captain GREB! Captain GREB!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Easing the pain of HP's blunder

08:15 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Check to see if you need your JCL

Job Control Language is an HP 3000 nuance, a tool embedded in many an application suite under MPE/iX. Making changes to accomodate JCL can be one of the most complex parts of a migration to another platform. Sometimes, though, JCL is there because a more elegant tool wasn't available when the app was designed.

Comp Three, a HP 3000 services provider and software creator, has outlined this kind of migration in a case study up on its Web site. The story in the study covers Raytheon, an HP 3000 site which had been running an in-house project cost and billing system under MPE/iX, but got its migration orders in 2004. Comp Three got called in to help on the migration, which they said was accomplished in three months.

Sound lightning fast? Much of the time might have been saved by passing up the JCL in the application. According to the Comp Three story, better reporting tools from the world of SQL eliminated the need to replace JCL with scripts — the usual substitution on a 3000 migration.

Raytheon picked Oracle as its target platform, along with Windows NT as the operating environment. Comp Three said it got the project completed so quickly with an

“intelligent re-engineering” approach to the migration. Instead of translating function-by-function and screen-by-screen, we inventoried all the HP 3000 functionality, and developed a less redundant system.

Comp Three used its TIPS software to move the IMAGE/SQL data to Oracle, but listed "Eliminating batch reports and JCL files" as its first accomplishment:

In looking at the reports and JCL, we ascertained that almost all of the JCL simply executed various report programs. Most of these programs, in turn, went after a handful of the same datasets.

We replaced all the JCL and reports with a few flexible online reporting screens, each of which allowed for multiple selection criteria, and sorting and summing by any field. These screens allowed for saving to Excel, satisfying the hard copy requirement.

By using cursor-less SQL, the screens all executed many times faster than on the HP 3000 — quickly enough to be run on-line.

10:53 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (2)

June 06, 2006

The taxman makes HP more profitable

Customers casting their future lots with HP have more to smile about today; the vendor said it's raised its second quarter profits by $443 million. A favorable settlement with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  — not Advant's irs4hp.com we've been reporting on for our past five entries, including yesterday's podcast — led to HP's increased earnings. The IRS was auditing HP returns of seven to nine years ago. Now that's the kind of audit outcome most companies would like to have.

A profitable vendor is important to customers, especially those using a non-standard operating environment or a unique processor family. HP-UX users qualify on both counts, since Linux is much more of a standard than anybody's specific flavor of Unix — and the Itanium design has been a bust as far as widespread vendor adoption that could make it a standard.

HP 3000 customers who are migrating to HP's Unix solutions want a more profitable HP. One strategy is that a vendor with good profits can afford to run businesses outside the mainstream. HP 3000 customers might have caught some of the fallout of an HP scrabbling for revenue growth in 2001. "If it ain't growin', it's goin' " was the rumored mantra among then-CEO Carly Fiorina's top managers. The 3000, pushing along at little to modest growth, was a target.

HP-UX customers are further from that fate with an HP which is robust financially. Nothing lasts forever, but the 3000 customers moving to another HP platform don't want to re-migrate to something else if HP's fortunes turn toward those bad $16-a-share days of Carly's reign.

As of mid-day after the extra-profits announcement, HP's stock remained above $30 a share. HP earned almost $1.5 billion in profits for the second quarter.

HP reported a 51 percent jump in net income and close to 5 percent in revenue increases for its fiscal 2006 second quarter. While those results were driven primarily by restructuring efforts and higher profitability across businesses, the causes don't matter much to the prospective HP-UX customer. They just want the vendor to continue investment in the operating environment and Integrity servers running Itanium chips.

11:37 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

Can a new turn help right 3000 pricing?

In this week's NewsWire podcast (4 MB MP3 file), we talk with Advant's Steve Pirie about the SSEDIT software service that can speed up A-Class servers, hack 9x7s to run MPE/iX 7.0, and perform other magic. All this and more is being delivered for service companies and their customers, folks who want a break on the cost of keeping 3000s alive while they get ready for migration — or homestead.

Have a listen to our memories of the lawsuit and lo-jack arrest days of the 3000 market and how much things might have changed since then. What will it take to free this market of 3000 owners? A good start might be a program like SSEDIT and the moxie to use it, along with some valid MPE/iX licenses. Let us hear from you, below, in a comment, or by e-mail, if your business might be harmed by third party changes like this — or helped to survive.

08:26 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Changing models reflects 3000 pricing

For three days this week we've begun to cover the change in owning an HP 3000 during 2006. Captain GREB — who we're now told is not Advant's Steve Pirie, but someone else at Advant — has told us and the 3000 newsgroup readers of a program HP can't keep from the community, SSEDIT, which transforms 3000 model strings. (We'll have a full Q&A with Advant on the subject soon enough. If you have any more questions you'd like us to ask, send them to our editorial offices.)

While this kind of system-changing activity was turned to less-than-legal ends in the 1990s, in our current era these changes to a 3000 qualify as end-of-HP-life customer comfort. HP has done some of its share of making 3000 customers more comfortable as they prepare for a platform transition. Very little, however, has been done by the vendor to align the 3000's cost with its receding vendor lifespan.

Put more plainly, a system with only two years of supported life should be selling for less than its authorized used reseller equipment price. HP has aleady acknowledged this computer line should drop in cost. The evidence lies in the HP parts price list, as pointed out by OpenMPE board member Matt Purdue.

Purdue was answering a question about how to get an upgrade into an A-Class server. Was this even available anymore from HP? A customer who's homesteading, MMFab, didn't have budget to beef up its A-Class back in 2002. Now the funds are present for their upgrade, according to Dave Powell.

HP's price list showed the more powerful A-Class processor board, along with a trade-in credit for the older model. The price for the A-Class board from HP, A6891-62001, has dropped from more than $3,500 to $800 in the past year, according to Purdue's notes from HP's Partsurfer Web site:

Go to partsurfer.hp.com and search for part# A6891-62001 for a new processor and part# A6891-69001 for a replacement (requires exchange of defective part). You’ll also need to call 800-227-8164 for availability. You’ll need to schedule the install with your local HP SE.

Just over a year ago the cost was: A6891-62001 $3,532.24; the A6891-69001 exchange $2,583; plus installation at $294/hour Mon-Fri one hour minimum plus travel charge $140. Today partsurfer gives A6891-69001 $800 and A6891-62001 $1,744.

Both the A6891-69001 and A6891-62001 are for the 650Mhz PA8700 processor. I would also ask what warranty is provided by HP for the new processor and installation — and that if there are any problems that affect the operation of your current perfectly running box, if HP guarantees they will restore your box to perfect running order.

Offering a program like SSEDIT for use by the third party community is going to help reduce the cost of HP 3000 systems. It should also open up the availability of low-cost systems, aside from the MPE/iX licensing issues. (Very real issues, it would appear, for the next two-plus years. HP has insisted that an MPE/iX license is linked to a piece of 3000 hardware like a brain to a body.) But SSEDIT can make 3000 hardware more plentiful, according to HP consultant Joe Dolliver:

Long live the HP 3000s. I would imagine that this also allows HP-UX systems to be converted to HP 3000 systems, which would open up tons of N-Class systems cheap.

HP derives little revenue by now for these systems, since it's stopped selling them. All that would be lost is HP's $400-plus support charge for installation of the new board. (We'd bet that with the use of SSEDIT, that charge could be reduced using a third party support engineer.) And it looks like those parts for the 3000 systems are already being discounted by HP. All of that reduction is a break that benefits all the 3000 computer users grappling with other costs, even as they homestead on the way to migration. Whether that's the right thing to do, or to oppose in a legal action, will be a subject of our podcast Monday.

07:17 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (2)

June 01, 2006

Advant's GREB-master takes another step

No shy, conservative 3000 community member, Advant's "Captain GREB" has posted another notice about the abilities of the company's SSEDIT software — this time to change an HP 3000 from an older model family to a newer one that can now boot the latest versions of MPE/iX.

The Captain — likely Steve Pirie of Advant's staff — posted a message that offers proof of running MPE/iX 7.5 on a Series 9x7 HP 3000. 9x7s, the most popular model of 3000 in the PA-RISC era, have been locked out of booting up with either MPE/iX 7.0 or 7.5. HP put code in both versions of the operating system which checks for an HPCPUNAME string, then only boots if the server is a 9x8 system or later.

Pirie said the test in the "GREBs Lab" was "a hack. But it's proof of concept that MPE 7.5 can boot on a 9x7. We didn't do much beyond booting and a LISTF."

Advant's posting may be designed to put even more wood behind its arrow of offering GREBs, the Generic REplacement Boxes which the company will modify with a personality change. Pirie said that Advant will sell such systems itself, or modify a server without license which a customer purchases or supplies for the Advant service.

"We can do either [of those]," Pirie said. "A GREB is basically a used HP 3000 or HP 9000, that is reconfigured and sold without a license, after being modified with SSEDIT."

"In the past for certain third-party maintenance companies, we have initialized [CPU] boards for them," Pirie added. "I don't have a problem doing that — but what some people have done is turned around and on the gray market they have sold those boxes. And basically we've been cut out of a lot of money."

HP made its claim for damages in 1999 against third party resellers on the same basis. The vendor claimed in lawsuits against HardwareHouse and others that it lost sales of HP 3000s when such third parties changed HP 9000 systems to become HP 3000 servers, or increased user limits on servers with an unprotected copy of SS_CONFIG.

Advant's GREB offer, as well as its information about making older HP 3000s run newer versions of MPE/iX, stops short of convertiing HP systems from one type to another. Or does it? The model lineup on the grebs4hp.com Web site lists three N-Class servers which can become either type of system, 3000 or 9000.

Pirie said Advant wants its value for SSEDIT's personality-changing abilities. "If you want a GREB now, you'll have to buy the whole box," he said. "We're getting as choosy as HP is. So another third-party maintenance company is going to have to spend a lot of money to get a spare part. Or they can negotiate with us."

Advant thinks of their HP 3000 services and sales as "Hospice 3000," according to Pirie. "Death with dignity for an old friend."

09:32 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)