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New notices of a critical 3000 feature, cloned

In what might be a first for the 3000 community, a new tool has been announced first on Twitter and Linked In. MB Foster is rolling out MBF Scheduler this month, software designed to replicate the advanced streaming and scheduling features which 3000 customers have long deployed.

David Greer, the new director of Marketing and Sales at MB Foster and a 3000 developer since the 1970s, tweeted the notice of the new product over the weekend and a link to a new Web page at the MBFA site. We're working on gathering some specific details about the software's pedigree, but for now we can relay that the product proposes to "deliver the robust job scheduling features of the HP 3000 MPE operating system for the Microsoft Windows Server platform without the need of a separate Unix or Linux server."

We have heard from plenty of migrating sites that miss the built-in scheduling prowess of MPE/iX. Designed in the '70s as well, the 3000's OS always had scheduling as a high priority (pun intended) because the computer was launched to carve out business from the batch-rooted IBM customer base. Seems scheduling has become even more valuable in a world that wants to avoid deploying Unix or Linux.

The 3000's depth of scheduling was integrated into the environment from the early days of system delivery. MB Foster's cloned feature set reminds migrators of what they've learned to rely upon.

A master job queue, input priorities, job fence, job limits, and other MPE-specific job scheduling features are built in to MBF Scheduler. You can automate all of these features by using the MBF Scheduler command line interface. Command line utilities allow you to submit, control, and monitor your MS Windows Server jobs. You can even include MPE-style job cards in your Windows batch files.

Yes indeed, command lines continue to function as the power tools for IT, even more than three decades after batch ruled the computer world. A recent HP rollout of its latest Unix servers showed off how an administrator could monitor partitions that were not even online. That demonstration showed command line interaction.

This sort of command line interface was used to club the 3000 into a legacy category during the 1990s. At that time, character-driven interaction was the norm for users of the system. That's long gone now, at least in the customer sites that have shifted to Windows for users. Those who mean to take the Windows environment into the datacenter are among the target customers for MBF Scheduler. (And if you're still relying on character-based interfaces for mission-critical 3000 apps, we'd like to hear from you.)

It's a sign of the maturity of migration solutions that fundamentals like scheduling are still getting tools entered in the ninth year of the Transition. HP and the consultants all said that such tools would emerge while migrations ramped up. The timing of that emergence didn't follow HP's forecast, of course. And it says a lot about the integral offerings of the 3000 for datacenters that these features need Unix-free alternatives for the Windows world.

There's a message for the homesteader here, especially those who continue to use the 3000 while they build all the tools and support needed for a transition. Scheduling is a core benefit of keeping the system in a mission-critical role, even as an interim solution. "How can we be secure using our 3000, still?" You could reply, "Well, there's the scheduling that runs all our operations. It's been tricky to find a replacement for that, believe it or not."