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Third party improvements a fact of 3000's life

Our report on the death of Joerg Groessler, developer of breakthrough designs for enterprise server backup, has drawn out some history, tribute, and a clarification since we posted the July 24 entry.

The subject of third parties' sparks for the 3000's flame is an important one. Throughout the platform's history, the most breakthrough of designs and development for the system have come from outside HP's labs. Hewlett-Packard's engineers have executed well on the challenges of keeping up the flow of customer requests for the MPE/iX Command Interpreter and Posix interfaces, as well as enhancements to some other subsystem modules.

The labs' contribution of open source favorites such as C++, Apache, Samba, domain name services and more began outside HP, however. Each of these mainstays then went through the gauntlet of testing and integration and documentation at the hands of HP's lab experts. More recent work on IO and device support has led to use of disks larger than 300 GB and the forthcoming SCSI pass-through driver.

But in the dawning years of the platform, software engineers outside HP delivered crucial tools and processes. It's important to remember this as HP's development resources wane for the 3000. Third parties are still alive in this ecosystem. Some are lively long after HP calculated they would survive.

Alfredo Rego and Rene Woc produced Adager, the first database adapter and manager — for a platform whose largest claim to fame was an award-winning, bundled database. (IMAGE co-creator Fred White built the product, too — after leaving HP.) Looking at MPEX from VEsoft shows how the 3000's operating environment can be streamlined, turbo-charged and built into a tool which any sysadmin, manager or programmer can benefit from. Such products arrived unprompted in the 1970s and 1980s, and even into the 1990s, sparked by the community's devotion to the 3000.

The first XML tool for the 3000 arrived just last year, offered by Canam Software. The platform has a way of keeping up with what is essential, thanks to third parties like Groessler and Orbit, which released the first 256-bit encryption facility for the 3000 this year.

Groessler's work went beyond the backup genius that bettered HP's STORE and RESTORE. Winston Krieger, the first Technical Director for 1980s software powerhouse Tymlabs, offered us a story about Groessler's efforts on Backup/3000. Krieger noted that the released product passed through Groessler's design lab, but Tymlabs revised the program to ship the first full-functioning version. But in his correction, Krieger also offered great praise for his colleague, citing the development of CopyRite, a better, faster method to copy files on early '80s HP 3000s.

“While Joerg participated in the development/prototyping of several Tymlabs products, including an early backup prototype, his work on the CopyRite product was the most valuable contribution to Tymlabs success in the HP 3000 marketplace," Krieger said. "CopyRite was (and still is) a great replacement for FCOPY. Its premier feature is an incredibly fast algorithm, invented by Joerg, which is used for creating the B-Tree index structure for KSAM files (10 to 100 times faster than other algorithms commonly used by HP and others).”

Not to slam HP's engineering, which often solves another knotty problem for a 35-year-old platform: How to release improvements which don't break three prior decades of development.

An HP alumnus added praise for Joerg's third party work just yesterday. A more recent colleague of Groessler's, former HP 3000 product marketing mangager Peggy Ruse, commented to our July 24 obituary:

I am so sorry to learn of Joerg Groessler's passing. Joerg was one of my first clients when I started my consulting business, Ruse Consulting, after leaving HP. I worked as a product marketing manager in the CSY/3000 division for a few years. I really enjoyed working with Joerg, Mark Klein, and other Orbit senior managers. Fine company with good people. I'm honored to have known him. My heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues.