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February 2007

Alliance proves migration pace picks up

    After many years of competition for HP 3000 customers, two vendors which once sold 4GL tools now work together to help those sites away from HP 3000s.

   Speedware and Cognos act in a new alliance that can put Speedware’s migration teams inside a Cognos site, doing the engineering and consults that lead to replacing HP 3000 PowerHouse with other Cognos products.

   Cognos sells Windows tools as well as HP-UX and IBM AIX versions of PowerHouse, which was once a product with more than 7,000 HP 3000 licenses worldwide. Now Speedware has studied with Cognos to learn the details of PowerHouse, training to the point where Speedware can lead in a Cognos migration engagement.

    Christine McDowell, Speedware’s manager of Strategic Migration Alliances, said the pace of 3000 migrations is one element that has sparked its alliance with a classic rival.

Continue reading "Alliance proves migration pace picks up" »

HP Explains its RTU, Part Two

HP unveiled a new Right to Use license for HP 3000 customers this month, a program the vendor will use to ensure customers have a way to upgrade systems with legal MPE/iX licenses. HP will sell a customer a new Right to Use license during an upgrade, discounting the "delta" between the new license cost and the value of the customer's existing MPE/iX license.

The program is arriving as news to some resellers of HP 3000 systems and processors for the server. One reseller reported hearing nothing from HP about the RTU program until his February NewsWire arrived.

While we aim to break news first, it's surprising to learn some resellers have been left out of HP's pre-briefing loop. Client Systems, HP's only "authorized" 3000 reseller in North America, got full notice of the program in advance. (Good thing, too, since HP mentioned the reseller several times during a pre-briefing interview with us.)

Here then is the second part of our 30-minute Q&A with HP's Jennie Hou and Ross McDonald — explaining how the RTU works, what it might cost, and who will need to deal with it. On that last note, it seems that dealers of HP 3000 systems and parts, at least those who are doing upgrades, will be dealing with the RTU. (If you've missed the Q&A's first part, you can find it here.)

How will a customer determine what their upgrade path is for this RTU? A Web site page with tables and graphics?
    Hou: It’s all posted on our Web site. Several pages talk about our hardware upgrade program. There is a matrix that tells about permissible upgrade paths.

So what are the limitations in upgrades?
    Hou: No cross platform or cross chassis upgrades, like from a 9x8 to a 9x9.

What is the range of deltas a customer can get for their existing MPE/iX license?
    McDonald: The deltas vary between levels. $62,000 is the biggest delta between two license levels. For example, if a customer goes from a N-class 500 3-way to a N-class 750 4-way [list price of $89,500], the customer will get a $62,000 credit when purchasing a $89,600 license. The customer pays the license price, which is the delta of those two price points.

Who needs to pay attention to this new Right to Use license?
    McDonald: People who want to upgrade their systems to get more performance. If your existing system has a valid license and it’s meeting your needs, you can run on that license forever.

Continue reading "HP Explains its RTU, Part Two" »

HP sounds off on new 3000 licenses

HP briefed us about its plan to issue Right To Use licenses about five days before the official RTU announcement. We wanted to know more than the five HP documents might tell about the first HP 3000 product to enter the Corporate Price List in more than four years. A Q&A interview was in order.

Today and tomorrow we'll share HP's answers and details about RTU licenses — a product you will never need concern yourself with, until you want to upgrade HP 3000s in your shop. And oh yes, customers are upgrading, even in the months following HP's initial deadline for leaving the market.

HP granted us a 30-minute interview on the subject, without receiving any of our questions in advance of the interview. In exchange, we have allowed HP to review and revise its answers; after all, in this Q&A feature we're let the subjects express themselves as they would like to be understood.

Their answers have been edited by us for brevity, before we submitted them for HP's revisions, but no question went unanswered. HP also supplied us in advance with the versions of those Web documents which it posted on Feb. 12. You can find them at

Our interview subjects were HP employees Jennie Hou, an e3000 R&D project manager with focus on the customers, partners, and business; and Ross McDonald, e3000 R&D Lab Manager.

Why introduce a Right to Use license at this point in the HP 3000’s lifespan?

McDonald: Two reasons. When purchased upgrade kits were no longer available, we realized that customers needed a way to create a valid system.

   Additionally, there seemed to be confusion in the marketplace on how customers could ensure they had valid e3000 systems. We’ve been working on it for a number of months, trying to get this out in a timely fashion.

    We’re putting a product back on the pricelist to enable this for the 3000. We’ve been winding down the 3000, so it was not expected that we would do this. We’re really doing this to accommodate customers who need to upgrade their systems.

What seems to be prompting the confusion among customers?

    Hou: We just started getting some calls from our customers, asking how to do a license upgrade.

Continue reading "HP sounds off on new 3000 licenses" »

HP's Q1 strong; business servers, less so

HP put together a rousing first quarter for its fiscal 2007, with big gains in profits and revenues for the company overall. When you post a 26 percent increase in earnings, investors notice. But the report kicked the HP share price downward. Stock analysts remain concerned about the source for HP's future growth. Today the stock closed just under $41 a share, managing to eke about a $40 price after the Q1 figures.

This quarter's gains came from the surging PC and printer business, two operations that show vastly different profit margins. PCs return about 4 percent, while the printers and imaging products come in at 15 percent.

HP reported that a large measure of its profits appeared because of HP's continued cost-cutting. Revenue grew 11 percent overall for the company, but the numbers for the Business Critical Systems, where the Integrity server business lives, were down. CEO Mark Hurd said the company just missed the mark on selling and closing deals for Integrity servers running HP-UX and Windows.

Integrity is the target platform HP is urging its migrating 3000 customers onto. A good friend of mine at a reseller reports that the new Integrity business, where HP is attracting new customers, is mostly Windows-related. HP-UX Integrity purchases come from the installed base, by his anecdotal accounts.

Enterprise Storage and Servers and HP's Services business — the two arms that sell to the HP 3000 customer — posted the smallest revenue growth of any HP segment. Business Critical Servers showed a 6 percent decline in revenues. ESS grew just 5 percent, the same at HP Services.

Continue reading "HP's Q1 strong; business servers, less so" »

HP goes into overtime on time zones

The spring-forward date to Daylight Saving Time is still about two weeks away, but HP will be working close to the clock to finish its revisions for the HP 3000's time-tracking software. Last year HP had revised the TZTAB files for the HP 3000, tables updated to follow the new spring-forward dates in the US and elsewhere.

The 3000 community has already done the work to prepare their systems for the first change in the DST's starting date in 20 years. With HP's revised table in hand, and managers offering advice on the process, what else did the diligent 3000 owner need?

Well, HP has just reported that the revised table is bit wobbly around its Atlantic regions, and elsewhere. Jeff Vance, HP engineer and link to the 3000 community, said the HP labs are working on a couple of legs of the time table.

We in vCSY were about to release the latest TZTAB file, which is based on the HP-UX TZTAB, when it was discovered that we now have incorrect information for Alaska and some Atlantic regions. The HP-UX team is working quickly to address this problem, and as soon as they are done we will make the file available on Jazz, in addition to providing a regular patch.

Continue reading "HP goes into overtime on time zones" »

Why join OpenMPE? Getting connected with providers

Voting in the OpenMPE board elections proceeds for the next nine days. Even if you're not all that involved with who serves on the advocacy group's board, there is another reason to head to that Web site. OpenMPE tracks service and hardware providers for the community, with a listing available on that Web site.

If you're in the business of helping companies stay on the 3000, this looks like a tangible benefit for your time you spend joining. OpenMPE is keeping four lists of providers: Hardware Support, Hardware Broker, MPE/iX Phone Support, and Consultants.

OpenMPE members join for free by answering seven questions and providing contact information. The form for provider listings, also free, follows directly below the membership sign-up questions.

Continue reading "Why join OpenMPE? Getting connected with providers" »

Seven days, 36 OpenMPE votes

After seven days of voting — which got off to a bit of a late start on Feb. 12, because of a Web snag — the 2007 election for OpenMPE board directors has delivered 36 ballots. Including mine, using my free membership to select who will brainstorm with HP about its HP 3000 endgame policies.

Five candidates are running for four open seats, so there's some mystery about who will continue to serve. The candidates are incumbents Chuck Ciesinski, Paul Edwards, Birket Foster and Alan Tibbetts.

Anne Howard, a 3000 veteran of the K-12 application business, has tossed her hat into the ring, too. You can vote at the site. Be sure to join as a member first. You need a membership number to cast a valid ballot.

The election runs for 13 more days including today. If you're inclined to compare turnout so far, after one week of voting last year we had 55 ballots on hand. The final count of 2006 ballots was 111, so the community has a good share of its turnout still in the hands of customers and members.

Continue reading "Seven days, 36 OpenMPE votes" »

Ticking time zone clocks

Steve Cooper, one of the founders of Resource 3000 partner Allegro Consultants, updated the 3000 community on important details about the upcoming time zone changes. These are the adjustments managers must make to keep up with the new start and end of Daylight Saving Time.

Just when you thought you had the latest Time Zone Table file on your 3000, the world has gone and changed the rules again.

A new patch has just been released on HP-UX, with the following updates:

    ( SR:8606475843 CR:JAGag30156 )
    tztab(4) needs to be modified for Mexico Daylight
    Saving (DST) changes.

    ( SR:8606475841 CR:JAGag30154 )
    tztab(4)needs to be modified to support Western Australia
    DST changes.

    ( SR:8606475842 CR:JAGag30155 )
    tztab(4) needs to be modified for Canada DST changes.

    1. Indiana will support Daylight Savings Time (DST) from
    April, 2006 onwards.

Continue reading "Ticking time zone clocks" »

Web Console: A good left arm for 3000s?

I'm in the process of installing my first Secure Web Console and have a question. The installation instructions look like the SWC will replace the current 700/92 terminal, as there is only one serial port on the console/LAN card in the server. It feels like I'll be cutting off my right arm in doing away with the "console." Not that we use it that much in day-to-day operations — but it has become a bit of an old friend over the years, and I feel a bit of pending loss.

Since this is the case, could there be problems from not having the physical console there, and having to fly with the SWC? And if the SWC dies for any reason, can you just put the serial cable back on the terminal?

— John Bawden

Craig Lalley replied to the final question about putting the serial cable back on, "Yes, you can." Wes Setree added very recent information about an installation just today. "Actually, I just configured a SWC a few minutes ago."

Continue reading "Web Console: A good left arm for 3000s?" »

Greatest 3000 user conference to saddle up

Anne Howard, a Greater Houston RUG board member and candidate for the OpenMPE board of directors (get to the OpenMPE site, join for free, and vote!) has offered the first article about why you should reserve this September's travel for the next HP 3000 Conference.

We'll let this 3000 veteran tell the story herself here. Put the middle weekend of September on your travel requests. This conference is going to be inexpensive to attend, as well as travel to in Texas.

I want to tell you about the greatest little user conference in Texas. The November 2006 Greater Houston Regional User Group Conference (GHRUG) was an outstanding opportunity for system administrators and end users to get up close and personal with some of the most dynamic people in the HP world. Held at the University of Houston Clear Lake just outside the gates of Johnson Space Center, our little Texas event had quite an international flair with presenters from all over the world.

Canada’s Birket Foster from MBFoster.  Nicholas Fortin from Speedware/Activant and Gilles Schipper from GSA, Inc. Michael Marxmeier from Marxmeier Software AG joined us from Germany and and ScreenJet’s  Alan Yeo came over from from England.   

Charles Finey from Transformix Computer Corp joined us from California, and we had Texas’ own leading HP consultants Matt Perdue, Paul Edwards and Bill Hassell, along with Richard Sonnier from Nimble Services.   

The presentations were fantastic and the keynote from Adager's Alfredo Rego was riveting. 

What our little conference did not have was a high price tag. The entire three-day event was only $200.

Continue reading "Greatest 3000 user conference to saddle up" »

Everything told is retold again

This year of 2007 marks the 36th one in which HP 3000s booted up and ran. Even allowing for the 3000's false start of 1972-74, we count well over three decades of IT utility for businesses. Despite all fo that progress, there's still room for the vendor of your system to return to issues we thought were long behind us.

A good friend at a renowned third party firm commented on the Right To Use retelling of HP's MPE/iX terms. "It's interesting how topics that one believed were lost in the past become current again," he said. I could almost see the knowing smile cross his lips while saying it.

Third party companies have often shifted the fortunes of HP's 3000 business. Those independent firms will continue to add value in HP's blind spots, as well as prompt the vendor to view another version of HP's closing 3000 chapters.

Continue reading "Everything told is retold again" »

What protection does the RTU offer HP?

HP has been careful not to link its new Right to Use license with the Generic Replacement Boxes (GREBs) program at Advant/Ideal. But one crucial message of the new RTU applies: using an HP 3000 without an authorized upgrade license, after you've moved from one level of MPE/iX to a higher tier, is prohibited. Or so HP says.

What's more, taking another PA-RISC server (like a cheap L-Class system off eBay) and using an MPE/iX license from an HP 3000 is also prohibited, under the terms of the new RTU. HP's policy means to protect the vendor's right to license MPE/iX, as well as keep the operating environment on original HP 3000 hardware.

OpenMPE's director Paul Edwards, a legendary veteran of training, consulting and a former vendor at Bradmark — one who runs his own company and has negotiated a deal to license and use HP's MPE/iX educational materials — has his doubts about how much protection the RTU and the policy around it provides HP.

HP's new license policy is up on the company Web site; you can download it (a PDF file) from a link here.

Edwards said he hasn't heard of HP prosecuting vendors who install a copy of MPE/iX on a 3000, "because the original system disc drives are not on that [new] system." If he's right, a lawyer could argue that amounts to failure to copy protect MPE OS code. How that case would prevail — it would likely be sparked by an HP lawsuit against an unauthorized third party — well, that remains to be seen.

Continue reading "What protection does the RTU offer HP?" »

HP rejoins 3000 vendors with RTUs

    HP returned to the ranks of companies which sell products to HP 3000 customers, opening up a Right To Use (RTU) license business aimed at customers upgrading HP 3000s.

    The new RTU, the first such license ever offered to HP 3000 sites, will be sold to sites which need to improve the performance of a system which HP has been retreating from for more than five years.

    Ross McDonald, the HP e3000 R&D Lab Manager, said the new product is a departure from HP’s designs for the product’s lifespan.

     “We’ve been winding down the 3000, so it was not expected that we would do this,” he said. “We’re really doing this to accommodate customers who need to upgrade their systems." HP’s documents which explain the RTU policies are available at the HP Web page

Continue reading "HP rejoins 3000 vendors with RTUs" »

HP RTU: New license, new terms, new revenues

   When asked why it is creating a new Right To Use license for 3000 upgrades now, more than five years after it announced the end of HP's support for the system, HP said its customers have lost the ability to license an upgrade to their HP 3000s. Such an upgrade has been unavailable since 2004, however, when the vendor took 3000 upgrade kits off the Corporate Price List. McDonald also said that HP has observed confusion among its customers about upgrading processes.

    “There seemed to be confusion in the marketplace on how customers could ensure they had valid e3000 systems [after an upgrade],” McDonald said.

    Neither McDonald or Hou would comment on the timing of the RTU announcement versus the Generic Replacement Box (GREB) program. That program, offered by Ideal Computer and Advant starting last summer, uses a third-party SSEDIT program to upgrade PA-RISC computers.

    “I don’t want to comment on any specific company or people who may be doing something in this space at this time,” McDonald said. “That’s something HP will address on a case-by-case basis.”

Continue reading "HP RTU: New license, new terms, new revenues" »

OpenMPE reboubles its search for candidates

Yesterday the OpenMPE advocacy group reminded the 3000 community about board membership. That is, the group was still open to, and looking for, people to run on the election which is set to begin Monday.

Continuity is a good thing for a volunteer organization. That's really about all that OpenMPE can be called up to now, although its volunteers are professionals who run IT shops and IT vendor companies. There is much experience among those nine seats. Easily more that 150 man (and woman) years.

But a fresh point of view is good for an organization which has now crossed over its five-year mark for lifespan. We encourage a run at a board seat for this group, even if winning it means you won't get to talk in public about what HP is doing to firm up its community end-game.

There's still a bit of time to toss your hat into the ring. Luckily, the board secretary works in the Pacific Time Zone.   

Continue reading "OpenMPE reboubles its search for candidates" »

The FAQ has become a TWiki

A few months ago we reported that Chris Bartram was taking the HP 3000's Frequently Asked Questions file into Wiki format. Last weekend Bartram reported that his work was essentially complete. However, the location of the Wiki has moved to

These are called TWiki's because they are Technical Wikis. But they operate in the same way as the Wikipedia you should know and love, if you do any Web searching.

Bartram, who hosts and stocks the fine Web resource for the platform, explains, "If you’re not familiar with ‘wiki’; a word in a topic that is highlighted and followed by a small “?” is an (as yet) undefined WikiWord. You click on the “?” and (assuming you have registered) will be allowed to edit (or provide) content for that WikiWord. Try it — it’s easier than it sounds."

Bartram has also reopened a 3000 job board in the Wiki format, one which ran years ago but has been offline for several years.

Continue reading "The FAQ has become a TWiki" »

Understanding how SLTs work

When you make an System Load Tape (SLT), are you adding anything to the tape? That is, are you specifying extra files be stored?

Mike Hornsby replies:

The SLT should have everything required to accomplish the first four steps of a system INSTALL:.

1. Boot from Alternate Path to ISL
2. Install MPE/iX to the Primary Path
3. Restore @[email protected],@[email protected], & all diagnostics
4. Reboot to ISL and START.

Notes from experience over time:

A. It is also very important to also have the HP Factory media handy. Some bugs in the past created SLT tapes that would validate but were non-functional. And, it is possible that disk errors or more frequently patch errors can result in a series of  SLTs that have latent problems. These HP Factory media should be stored in a safe place with a note on the console with a clue to where this safe place is.

B. It is very common for SLTs to play hide and seek. It is not at all amusing to play this game at 2:30 AM. It is a good idea to have multiple copies, one stored in a safe place and another physically attach  to the system in a folder/envelope that also contains a SYSGEN or better yet a SYSINFO configuration listing. If the stable storage is lost due to a replacement of a processor or main board, establishing the correct alternate and primary boot paths from the configuration listing is preferable to the trial and error method.

Continue reading "Understanding how SLTs work" »

All in a Day(light Saving Time)'s Work

Four weeks from this Sunday we will see the first change in many years to the "spring-forward" date for Daylight Saving Time, and the HP 3000 community has already started to discuss how they plan to handle it.

HP has released a revised TZ table for MPE/iX, an important part of keeping 3000s on the correct time during the roll-forward of one hour at 2 AM Sunday, March 11. That date will be advanced by three weeks from the one US customers have used since 1987. In 1974, the US daylight saving time began on January 6, and in 1975 it began on February 23.  After those two nascent years for the 3000, the DST starting date from 1976 onward was the last Sunday in April. A 1986 law shifted the starting date to the first Sunday in April, beginning in 1987.

We would guess that 20 years of the same DST dates — the late October change-back date has always been in place, up to this fall — covers the experience of four out of every five HP 3000 managers. (If you remember the first 1974 DST and were running a 3000, we'd love to hear your story. Even if you were running a 3000 in '76, you've got a good story.)

So this is a big change for some managers of 3000s. A recent discussion on the 3000 newsgroup included help from consultants, pointers at the HP files and notes about HP-UX and Windows accomodations. It looks like it won't be something to spend a lot of time on, so long as your tables are up to date.

Continue reading "All in a Day(light Saving Time)'s Work" »

Acucorp joins midrange alliance

The leading provider of COBOL development solutions for HP 3000 customers — both those migrating and those staying to homestead — recently announced it has joined Microsoft's midrange alliance. Acucorp joined the alliance to bring a tighter focus on the benefits of .NET to HP 3000 shops which choose Windows as their target platform for modernization and migration.

Acucorp has become a member of the Midrange Alliance Program (MAP), a strategic initiative focused on bridging the gap between midrange solutions and the Microsoft Windows and .NET platforms. Unlike other COBOL solution providers, Acucorp executed a serious measure of engineering to make its COBOL behave much like the HP 3000's COBOL II compiler. Its development and modernization suite, extend, got a new 7.2 generation of features last year, including connections for COBOL developers with their counterparts in the worlds of .NET and Java.

The Microsoft Midrange Alliance Program brings together the leading technology, service, and application partners — each with years of experience in midrange environments as well as Windows and the .NET framework. Midrange Alliance partners help organizations extend the lifetime of their applications, provide the agility to meet business needs and drive more value from their midrange investments.

Continue reading "Acucorp joins midrange alliance" »

Ecometry Escalates notice of its new conference, partnership

Late last summer, Ecometry merged with another retailing solutions provider, GERS Retail Systems. The merger installs Ecometry's CEO John Marrah as president of the combined firm, and the company name Ecometry lives no more. So some HP 3000 customers — those with their own Web commerce and retail solutions — should take notice of the just-announced Escalate Retail World Conference.

Not much information is available yet on the World Conference except its date and location: July 15-18 in Miami at the Doral Resort and Spa. We'll take a moment, then, to comment on what's happened to Ecometry in the merger — a deal which, while it wasn't exactly under the radar, seems to have been promoted at the time for the benefit of existing customers in both companies. At least it appears that way to us, discovering the merger some months after it closed.

The NewsWire's At-Large Editor Birket Foster brought us up to date, in the midst of reporting from his  research trip to the recent NRF retail solutions conference in New York City. NRF was the first conference since the merger at which Escalate showed off "its combined footprint" of solutions, as the company calls its roster of products. MB Foster takes its Ecometry engagements seriously, offering migration expertise for customer surround code as well as the data migration tool UDA-Link to the customers who are now always Escalate-d, so to speak.

Continue reading "Ecometry Escalates notice of its new conference, partnership" »

Voting for MPE's future has begun

OpenMPE launched its 2007 election season today, earlier than ever and with hopes of drawing its biggest participation since the group began its elections four years ago. Last year 111 customers, vendors and partners, as well as some HP lab engineers, voted to bring on new directors to the advocacy organization. The balloting begins Monday Feb. 12. You're got to be an OpenMPE member to vote, but membership is still free, for now.

While last year's 111 votes may not seem like much, the directors of the multi-million-dollar user group Interex were voted in on not too many more ballots. Those slim numbers ruled the results of the years leading up to the Interex demise. If size matters, the most crucial measurement might be the depth of the organization's debt, rather than the number of customers having their say.

As has been the case for the past three years (2004 through 2006), I'm acting as impartial judge for the elections, taking a second count to shadow the calculations done by OpenMPE's secretary Donna Hofmeister (nee Garverick). A new last name for the secretary is not the only fresh element to this year's vote. The board is putting out an open and somewhat early call for candidates, too.

Continue reading "Voting for MPE's future has begun" »