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Got a turnkey DR solution?

Most HP 3000 installations have a disaster recovery plan, right? After all, the 3000s that are still in service do the enterprise-grade computing, handling mission-critical data for thousands of companies around the world.

But an HP 3000 DR solution usually needs to be a turnkey one — that is, the systems which feed the 3000 data from the outside, then deliver data back out, need to be protected, too. Linux is becoming a popular add-on platform for 3000 owners, managing everything from firewalls to EDI transactions. So the question a 3000 customer must face is, "What about the rest of your enterprise systems — can you recover them from a disaster?"

Matt Purdue, who also holds a seat on the OpenMPE board of directors, offers such a turnkey DR solution now. His Hill Country Technologies firm (210-861-3000) can manage Windows and Linux DR as well as supply whatever recovery plan a customer needs for HP 3000 apps. Turnkey, apparently, isn't very common among companies providing 3000 DR.

Sometimes national DR providers like Sunguard operate by giving customers travelling orders in the event of a disaster. Go to this city, they tell IT managers, where duplicate equipment and IT staff await. Hill Country's DR plan is triggered by a phone call, with no travel required. Not even out of bed, if that's where the 3000 manager learns of the disaster.

Purdue contacted us to spread the word that he's assembled a team to provide DR support across a complete array of enterprise systems. Linux was foremost in his offer,  both because he's seeing more of it now, and it's got potential that matches up with Perdue's experience.

Perdue has been using Linux for 10 years, which puts him in pretty select company. Even at that level of experience, he knows that an outside expert on call is a required resource.

"We've pulled together a group that can handle all those different operating environments," he said, including HP's Unix. "The people I've got support some fairly large companies here in San Antonio they take care of; one of the guys is a developer of Gentoo Linux. If you need some kind of special [Linux] hook in there, he can get it for you," such as specialized firewall software.

"There are situations where I'm in over my head, and I know well enough to leave it up to them," Perdue added. Even a decade of experience with an operating environment can leave gaps. It's a situation many HP 3000 managers face while the systems carry vital workloads.

Linux, Perdue added, has a special role to play in the world of the 3000. The Gentu distribution — free, from Gentoo.org — has a tool Perdue uses to repair failed sectors of MPE/iX discs. HP's provided repair utility, SADUTIL, is more difficult to use, he said. The next HP option is using DEBUG, a powerful but sometimes dangerous option for most of the 3000 installed base.

Gentoo Linux runs on HP PA-RISC hardware such as the 3000 line, he explained, so his diagnostics and repair happens right on the 3000 server with a reboot into Linux. It's an environment full of potential for the company which can call on experienced scripting pros.

"The world needs to wake up," he said. "Linux can do more than you think, especially if have someone good at scripting." Linux DR support is something many 3000 shops aren't taking into account when building the legacy of reliability in a cross-platform age.

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