Several years ago, HP updated its 3000 customers to a diagnostic suite called CSTM. The software replaced the SYSDIAG utilities which had served the community for several decades. CSTM put the same diagnostics at hand for both HP-UX and MPE/iX servers. But CSTM needs passwords to run its diagnostics, codes which HP promised to provide to the community, but remain undelivered today.
It's been awhile since that promise (think the Rich Sevcik era, going back into the early 2000s), but this summer CTSM needed a patch to keep working in 2009. Yes, even when HP won't provide but a shadow of its 3000 support, the system diagnostics used by HP CEs, third party supporters and even customers require some updating.
All this brings us to patch ODINX19C, which restores the customer/support provider's ability to access the online diagnostics. HP's notes on the new patch say that the current CSTM password tables will stop working on Jan. 1, 2009 — coincidentally, the same day when HP Support loses its lab facilities for the 3000 and MPE/iX.
Stan Sieler of Allegro Consultants, which supports 3000 customers, confirmed that " the password mechanism was date-sensitive, and had no code for dates past 2009." No matter who's using CSTM, Sieler posed a question about the situation which illustrates HP's continuing role in a 3000 market it claims to be exiting at the end of 2010.
Sieler asked, "The real question is, when support disappears from HP, how do people access the diagnostics?"
Okay, CSTM might not be a major part of your 3000 ownership experience, or a key tool in your sustainability plan. (You do have one of those plans, don't you, if you're homesteading? Pretty cowboy-like if not.) But CSTM is just one of many MPE/iX tools and modules which are getting their last housecleaning this year. HP announced a raft of patches for parts of the OS over the past month. Skipping them can cause problems you don't want in 2009, or even now. Using an un-fixed CSTM can result in a System Abort, in a worst case. Sieler said getting the passwords out of the way can make these diagnostics a tool for the community.
In CSTM, some tools are usable by anyone, and some require a password. Of the password-protected ones, many would be usable by knowledgeable customers and by third-party support providers... if they know the password.
Putting a new password table into CSTM is not the kind of project the HP IT Response Center will be able to accomplish. In fact, there are more experts now outside HP who can do this kind of "sustaining engineering" than the number inside HP. They're retired experts, like HP's Mike Paivinen, or those who have started new jobs at places like K-12 provider QSS (Jeff Vance, Mark Bixby) or consulting for Marxmeier Software (Lars Appel).
Much of HP's 3000 lab is migrating to the third party environment, or hanging up its "white coats" to pursue new careers like becoming professors in math. Since the experts will be working outside of HP, what good will it do for Hewlett-Packard to keep control of MPE/iX, things like passwords? The vendor won't tell anybody how much control it wants to retain, now that we're in the "Cone of Silence" era on HP's 3000 plans. But issues like updating access to a repair suite do raise the question once more: What's in the future for HP's ownership of MPE/iX?