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August 2010

HP user group names new marketing chief

Nina_Buik_PR1 Former Connect president Nina Buik, who's made a career in sales and marketing in the IT industry, has been hired as the user group's Chief Marketing Officer. It's a move that the group's executive director and COO Kristi Browder says will bring on new partnerships and alliances, along with increased awareness of the group's education.

Connect restructured itself last year, stepping away from a management contract with user group services company Smith Bucklin and taking its operations in-house. But the group didn't create a raft of paid staff posts to replace the fees paid to Smith Bucklin. Volunteers from the group's board picked up some of the work. Contractors helped with graphics, web design, publicity. Meanwhile, Browder and one part-time administrative assistant comprised the full paid staff for Connect, until Buik joined the group's payroll.

"Now that we have contracted in terms of our operating structure, the organization is poised for significant growth," said Buik. "In order for us to grow, you have to add people."

Browder said Buik "has worked tirelessly as a volunteer from Connect’s inception to create a strong brand and organization that now includes more than 50,000 members worldwide. The ability to bring in Nina as chief marketing officer with her strong marketing and sales background, coupled with her unique understanding of the user community. will benefit the Connect community for years to come." Both women have served as presidents of the user group, Browder before Connect was created in a merger of Encompass and three other groups.

User groups, once commonplace in the IT world, have become a rare species of networking creature. IBM's Series i retains its COMMON group, which claims to have a 50-year history. But few have dedicated a full-time paid marketing chief when their total staff is just three employees. Connect says it sees opportunity to reach out to more sponsor partners as part of its marketing push. It's got a vision of more events during 2011, plus vendor participation in getting a message to the HP community.

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Mitigating Risks in the 3000 Environment

By Birket Foster

As a software vendor with licensed customers in the HP 3000 market, I am astounded by the number of IT shops that have not clearly communicated to their senior management the issues associated with HP's December 31, 2010 end of hardware and software support. You see, senior management is often more concerned with the budget than with the risks involved, since financial analysis is something the company is measured upon. However, for all the companies I visit every year (and there have been hundreds), I have yet to see a company where the Microsoft Windows budget is less than the HP 3000 budget (service bureaus aside). Windows always costs more, and yet that desktop environment does little to run the applications required to run the business.

Budgets are good to monitor. But you must also remain aware of risks, and monitor and plan for them, in your mission-critical 3000 environment.

So here's a little “end of summer” exercise – let’s think through a scenario for your HP 3000. Something goes wrong with a disc controller rendering your storage useless – what is your plan for getting things back on track? Yes, that would be called a Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery situation. What's more, you should not only have such a plan readily available, but also have a management-approved measure called Mean-Time To Recovery of Operation (MTTRO) associated with it. What this metric consists of are the costs for the loss or impairment of a critical resource as well as the time-frames involved for different kinds of incidents. Each scenario should be played out with the costs involved and a discussion of what is acceptable downtime for that situation. (For some ideas, see the Wikipedia entry on MTTRO.)

Think of the best possible scenario. The downtime occurs right after a backup, with spare parts and the right team members present on site to recover from the failure. How long will it take you to recover? What will the downtime cost you while the HP 3000 is not available? You will need to know if that cost and the length of downtime is acceptable to your senior management team.

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HP front office falls to back of integrity line

A 20 percent error in behavior. That’s the bottom line on Mark Hurd’s ouster from CEO and chairman’s posts. HP’s stock has lost 20 percent in value over three weeks of trading after the company announced a sexual harassment claim and expense report creativity that led to the ouster. But as we finished our August issue of The 3000 NewsWire, to wrap up our 15th year, HP’s stock was sitting at a new 1-year low. My regard for its boardroom ideals has fallen lower.

Perhaps I’m an innocent in that way, but this is Hewlett-Packard we’re talking about here. One industry history called its founders The Aristocrats. HP may have gotten large by purchasing one company after another over the last decade, but it cannot purchase greatness. Not any more than its board chairman could buy profitability with research cuts and layoffs of tens of thousands of employees. It hasn't slowed, either. This week HP continued bidding up the price of buying a cloud storage company in a showdown with Dell. You can't help but wonder how much R&D could be bought with the current $1.88 billion HP wants to spend on 3Par. (And for the record, that company HP's chasing lost $3.2 million in its latest fiscal year.)

I can see a greater penalty levied on Hewlett-Packard’s industry prestige. Hurd becomes the third straight HP chairman forced to resign by a board of directors now looking skittish at best. Carly Fiorina was forced from her chair in 2005 over inability to execute much but layoffs and product cuts. Patricia Dunn, who took the chair from Fiorina, resigned over a pretexting scandal that spied on the media and their families to stanch boardroom leaks.

Now that Hurd has packed up his locked-door office, the fact that an HP leader gets bounced for sketchy behavior has less shock value. Except perhaps to Hewlett-Packard customers like the ones in our community, those who remember either Bill Hewlett or Dave Packard holding the chairman or CEO post. If ever there’s a stunner in HP history, it’s this: Company marketing now pounces so catlike that a sexual harassment claim and $20,000 in unauthorized payouts are board-level issues. HP's cold dead fish has been replaced by the sizzle of hot meat.

The 3000 community includes many partners and customers who recall the Bill and Dave era with nostalgia. That was a company era when the 3000 was a strategic business; Bill and Dave might have been kings, but they never had unmarried consorts, or contractors who’d be mistaken for harassed concubines.

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Everyday patch needs surface for UX, MPE

Within just a few days of HP's paid-only patch announcement, a pair of needs for HP patches ran across my desk here at the NewsWire. While many managers don't want to mess with patching HP enterprise systems -- because workarounds do the job and don't create new problems -- two patch needs match up with everyday requirements: security gaps, and fresh functionality.

On the HP 3000 side, an IT administrator wrote this morning looking for TRACERT, the route-tracing utility that HP eventually ported to the the 3000 in 2002. The program lives in the HP TELESUP support account on most 3000s, the one that System Engineers and HP support staff once used on the 3000. But at this customer's site, tracert.prvxl.telesup was nowhere to be found.

"It would seem that the HP-or-nothing restriction on patch downloads has officially had an impact, as I can't get the tracert.prvxl.telesup program loaded," said the administrator, adding that they "probably would have requested it back in the day had we known it was going to be locked down."

There are other places than HP's patch site to get TRACERT, since it's been in wide use for years. A community of administrators has been downloading such included software, so long as a customer has a valid MPE/iX license, it doesn't matter how they get the authorized software that's missing from their systems. (This is a place where a 3000-specialized user group could really help the community, if one would just form up.)

HP-UX customers won't be so lucky, although the HP-UX security patches released several times a month might remain available next month without a support payment. HP hasn't immediately responded to email or phone inquiries about free downloads of patches like HPSBUX02552 SSRT100062, a new shield against internal vulnerability that was just announced today.

The 3000 world isn't getting these security holes, and HP hasn't created a new patch for the system since 2008. Back when they could purchase support from HP, "many customers would buy a baseline support contract from HP," said Birket Foster, CEO of MB Foster. "Then they'd buy their real services from a third party, because the third parties tended to be more responsive -- and could even make a site visit more readily than HP's remote response center team."

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Emulator's customers: Plentiful, says Pivital

Suraci-04May Steve Suraci is the CEO of Pivital Solutions, a company focused on HP 3000 support as well as system sales. Pivital was one of the last HP-authorized resellers of the system and continues to sell used servers to clients. But Suraci, whose roots began with the GrowthPower and manufacturing communities of the 3000 world, sees great prospect for newer hardware to serve 3000 sites: The Intel-based emulator that's taking shape at Stromasys over the coming 12 months.

"I know a lot of customers who would be interested in an emulator today," Suraci said. He added that hitting the limits of existing 3000 system performance won't even be necessary. "Forget about the fact that hardware may run out of gas. I think they'd be looking at it from this standpoint: by running an emulator, you're putting [MPE/iX] on something they know."

Stromasys has said its product has run on Intel systems, under a Windows console, and has booted Linux already as if Linux was running on a PA-RISC system. That puts PCs and Windows in the hardware driver's seat, a familiar set of technologies.

The emulator customers that Suraci knows would "get away from this situation they have in house, where their programs are running on a proprietary HP 3000 that nobody wants anything to do with," he said. "You put it on a server they recognize. Yes, it still has its set of issues in the kernel where it runs, but now it's not the lame duck of the IT department."

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HP's customers push back on paid patches

Users of the HP 3000 have good reason to dislike the paid-only patch policy HP is sweeping into effect next month. But while those 971 HP 3000 patches disappear into HP's walled garden, thousands more go under the same lock and key for HP's Unix, VMS and NonStop servers -- all of which HP still sells and supports.

The 3000 community sees this as a problem, but how much depends on to what extent a user relies on MPE/iX patches in operations. Some large customers still use the PATCHMAN utility written in the 1990s to update 3000s as needed.

"We download patches with the PATCHMAN script, or go to the HP website," said Ray Legault, a systems integrator at Boeing. PATCHMAN relies on the free FTP access to deliver fixes to 3000 sites. HP is shutting down all patch access except via its website, the HP ITRC, on Sept. 17.

Consultants and companies which provide support already have many of the 3000 patches in their resource bins. The entire collection is 1.27GB, according to Craig Lalley of EchoTech. The patch code itself is small.

"Hey, it all fits on a thumb drive," Lalley said today. "I have already worked out the process where the files can be uploaded to an HP 3000, whereby PATCH/iX can determine which patches are required. Sadly, all patches (for each OS) need to be uploaded. PATCHMAN was a little bit smarter and only downloaded those that were not already applied."

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HP scraps free-patch plan, demands support

Hewlett-Packard is ending a policy with decades of history for its enterprise computing users: The ability for anyone to download any patch for systems such as HP 3000s, HP-UX servers and other business critical systems. Free patches will be gone from HP's enterprise ecosystem by Sept. 17.

HP announced that a pay-only patch policy will begin on Sept. 17 "for Enterprise Servers, Storage, and Networking product lines. Products affected include Integrity servers, HP-UX, OpenVMS, Tru64 and any other products for which patches are available." HP's IT Response Center website will require a current HP support contract to download HP's repairs and enhancements for its systems.

The HP 3000 has no support contract option available from HP starting Jan. 1, so HP plans to make the system's owners deal with HP on a patch by patch basis. HP's been using the Time & Materials prices to make limited support services available starting next year. HP officials contacted for our story have failed to comment on how the change affects users of the server HP will not support in 2011.

An FAQ web page on the policy change mentions the HP 3000 in specific, but fails to offer detail except to contact HP.

Q. What happened to patches for OS releases which are no longer supported (MPE, HP-UX 10.x, etc)?

A: Patches for unsupported OSes are no longer offered via FTP. Please contact HP support for assistance (charges may apply)

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HP says everything's great on financial slate

HP entertained 40 minutes of analyst questions last night after it released its Q3 report for 2010. Good news all around, after more than a dozen stock watchers probed the news that HP had pre-released on the day it gave its CEO the gate. Profits are up, sales are up, and only one hand went up in the Q&A asking about Mark Hurd.

ESSSlide Hurd was not the point of the news that HP sold $30.7 billion in products and services in the quarter that ended July 31, or that its profits were $2.3 billion for the period, or that those numbers were up 11.4 and 5 percent from the 2009 quarter, respectively. HP talked about broad-based strength in the quarter, even though growth in Services (that's the EDS part of the business) stalled out at 1 percent.

The story over at the Enterprise Storage and Servers group was cheery in the Industry Standard Server business, the one that sells Intel-based servers like the ProLiant line. Sales up 31 percent there. On the Business Critical Systems front, of course, the message was the only fly in the one-hour conference call. BCS revenues are down 15 percent, including the business wrapped around the HP-UX enterprise systems.

Interim CEO Cathie Lesjak (not Lesjack, as you might be reading in a few dashed off summaries this morning) blamed a new HP server on the BCS decline. That's because the Superdome 2, which probably fits into less than 5 percent of the HP-UX installed base IT footprints, won't ship until September. The server does have a big price footprint, so knowing a better one is in the offing and places like Pella Windows haven't purchased yet could have an impact.

Aside from the BCS bad news, Enterprise Storage and Servers contributed $549 million of profit to HP's Q3 total. Last year, the Q3 business only chipped in $381 million for the same quarter. Blades are cutting the way to the higher numbers. HP said blade revenues were up 29 percent.

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The "Vaunted" HP Way

By John Wolff

In reading the opinion piece by Holman Jenkins, Jr. titled “The Mark Hurd Show” in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, I was struck by his reference to the “vaunted HP Way.” The word vaunted means boastful or extravagant self praise; i.e., overdone. He went on to refer to the HP Way as “a set of admirable teamwork principles that nowadays is mostly invoked to resist unwelcome change.” Since I worked at Hewlett-Packard for six years beginning in 1968, this somewhat disdainful characterization of the HP Way bothered me. I would like to explain why.

BillNDave In the last 10 years or so it has become fashionable in some circles to call the HP Way a quaint philosophy that no longer applies within a modern large scale business. I strongly disagree with that notion. As a fresh 22-year-old college graduate with a Computer Science degree, I interviewed several major and minor computer manufacturers in the spring of 1968. Even at that tender age and with limited business experience up to that point, the job interview with HP left a particular and lasting impression on me that still stands out in my mind today.

First, HP at that time had just entered the mini-computer industry by deciding to make the computers they used as a component of their automated instrumentation systems, rather than to continue buying them from Digital Equipment. In fact, HP did not really think of itself as being in the computer industry at all; they were an instrumentation company and their mini-computers were really considered to be just another kind of instrument.

Second, HP had a first-class engineering reputation revolving around the measurement and instrumentation business that it led. As a computer science graduate these facts were interesting but not impressive to me, so they did not rank the company especially high in my mind when compared to other more established computer manufacturers (most of which are no longer in that business). Rather, the take-away item for me from the job interview was the unmistakable observation that HP, as a company, believed its most important asset was not their technology, but their employees. So without knowing what it was called, I had made my first contact with the HP Way.

I did not sense this concept of company-employee mutual loyalty from any other company I interviewed -- HP stood alone in this respect. I had several job offers to consider and the HP offer was not quite the highest, but I knew that this was the company I most wanted to work for in spite of their relative obscurity in the computer field.

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Value of PowerHouse dev skills: $18/hour?

Miner Not many HP 3000 programmer positions come onto today's general job board listings, places like or Even though these skills are in scarce supply, companies don't want to hire for a server which they A) Haven't spent any money on in years, or B) Believe is on its way out their doors. The latter, of course, often takes longer than a company plans.

But when a listing does surface in the world of IT jobs, it's notable. The latest one drew my attention because of the correlation between salary and skills. CareersUSA posted a job on that offers $15-$18 an hour, in a temporary full-time job, as a PowerHouse programmer.

That's $36,000 a year, before taxes, to maintain programs probably written in the 90s or even farther back in time. It's better than nothing at all, but not even close to what's being paid by the migration services companies for legacy 3000 expertise. Although PowerHouse looks more legacy with every month, the software is not yet in the Cognos/IBM support category of "Vintage Support."

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HP's history revision restarts with Hurd

CarlyCartoon Ten days have passed since HP canned its CEO Mark Hurd, but the reasons why remain a mystery to most journalists including me. What's better-known is the pattern the Hewlett-Packard board has taken since the HP 3000 was excised from HP's futures. The journalists who know the old HP -- that one of beer busts, collegial career paths and a company shy about waving the best-in-class product flag -- can see the trend toward company leaders who always consider shareholder benefits first.

The last CEO asked to leave, Carly Fiorina, was a charter member of the Customer Second school of management. Customers were tossed overboard in the Fiorina era if they relied on HP's less flashy, slow-growth products. You didn't want to be a VAX user, have built a strategy around Alpha, or carry a tally sheet of HP 3000 purchases once Fiorina jetted in to jettison what HP happily called legacy products. She rubbed out seemingly indelible tenets of the HP Way while pointing the company at an outside-engineered tech future. Along the way tens of thousands of talented HP employees lost jobs. By the end of her reign, employees were sending thrilled emails about how a scourge had been lifted. Others mourned her, for reasons related to remaking HP.

Mark Hurd's ouster has been so lurid and swift that some journalists claim the Fiorina Era now looks much better in this summer's aura of change at the top. Nothing could be further from the truth of what happened to HP for more than five years that started the 21st Century -- and not any more true than the "best man" label Hurd was touting as HP's CEO for the second five years. Hurd didn't do anything to harm the HP 3000. That mortal wound fell off the sword of paring back product lines to accomodate Fiorina's HP-Compaq dream.

But Hurd's harm can come when the company casts about in the sea of competition for in-house R&D. Not Invented Here used to be the kiss of death for an HP partnership; outside innovation needed not apply. Now NIH is HP's norm, something that should concern the 3000 user who hopes HP's enterprise prowess can extend to non-MPE environments. How reviled was the man who collected a $23.9 million bonus for '08 while he froze wages across the company? Have a look at a 2009 blog called FU Mark Hurd to sample some of the vitriol. 

Fiorina was lashed by the employees the same way internally. Then she had her legacy revised on her ouster. (She's attempting to whitewash her HP era while running for the US Senate.) Revising history at HP has become a boardroom-level act by now, starting with then-chair Patricia Dunn's "Pretext-gate" privacy sins in 2006 to flush out those who'd report on the true spots of a board clashing with Carly. HP paid $14.5 million in court fines after that chairman's ouster. The bill might be even higher in terms of Hurd's cost to HP invention, once jobs become easier to find.

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Products, programs push remote printing

3000 consultant Michael Anderson tapped a wellspring of advice over the last few days with a request about remote printing from an HP 3000 to multiple locations.

I have a need to support "Printing on printers at the remote locations" to multiple client companies from my HP 3000. Kind of like the old time-share paradigm. The client companies can access the HP 3000 using Telnet/iX, but they need to be able to print from the HP 3000 (Telnet session) to their own local printers. Does anyone know of any “canned” software that would help achieve my goal, or perhaps another network strategy?

Charles Finley of Transformix, a migration and software services company that's been working with Robelle of late, posted eight replies of considerable detail to solve Anderson's problem. But along the way the 3000 community which still trades 3000 technique at comp.sys.hp.mpe chipped in a few commercial solutions for the challenge, as well as one recommendation to use Samba.

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Emulator company reaches out to partners

ProgramTiming An HP 3000 emulator -- the software that will permit MPE/iX to boot on Intel's chips -- will require more than engineering to create cross-platform virtualization. The Zelus product from Stromasys will need licensing prowess, even more than HP's license to run MPE/iX on non-PA-RISC hardware.

To its credit, Stromasys is spending time with software and support companies which can enable the transfer of licenses from HP 3000s to emulated systems. One of the first contacts Stromasys made was with the Support Group inc, which supports users of the MANMAN MRP/ERP suites on the HP 3000. The Support Group estimates about 300-400 HP 3000s continue to run MANMAN, so the customer base is a good target for Stromasys.

But TSG is not in charge of the MANMAN licenses; that's the purview of Infor, which bought the app suite and its customers several years ago. John Pritchard, CEO of Stromasys, understands how crucial such license transfers will be to the success of the emulator, scheduled to start shipping next year. Stromasys operates a healthy business in the DEC emulator market, so there's some experience to call upon.

"We do a lot of business in our existing products with Oracle, and they have a licensing model for virtualization," Pritchard said in a conference call with TSG. "The 3000 was licensed by power rating, and we're still working through that. It's one of the discussions we want to have now that we've made the Zelus program announcement."

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Welcome, FluentEdge Technologies

We'd like to welcome FluentEdge Technologies to our stable of 3000 Newswire sponsors today. FluentEdge has been serving the Ecometry e-commerce customers since that application was leading the way in new HP 3000 sales. In the decade since then, the company has developed and sold encryption software that not only serves the Ecometry site -- there are still about 50 of those running on 3000s, according to co-founder Cliff Looyenga -- but software for any other 3000 site that needs encryption for data or files.

Encryption is an important aspect to IT service in an era where hacks have become a steady threat to repel. It's good to have several encryption solution providers on the 3000 menu by now. There was a time when some in this community predicted the demise of the system, because it couldn't encypt credit card data to satisfy auditors. The FluentEdge software does that, during database calls or one file at a time.

Sponsors are important to the 3000 Newswire's service, the meat on the bone that lets us deliver news about this server during the Transition Era at no cost to our readers. By taking a sponsorship position in both our printed issue and blog, FluentEdge helps keep you informed, just like our other partner companies have done for 15 years. Sponsorship is a great marker of who remains engaged with your community, reaching for new relationships and caring for those in hand.

Old HP hand voices new hope on Hurd firing

HouseMug Chuck House served HP for 29 years in top technical management, a period that included the birth of the HP 3000 as one of the company's best business solutions. This week the retired exec has been sharing his happiness for his old company since it jettisoned Mark Hurd. In 2009 House wrote his book The HP Phenomemon, and at his blog of the same name in an entry titled "Holy mackeral" he blasted the CEO best known for cutting HP down in size.

This guy was a thug, nicknamed Mark Turd by ex-HPites who worked directly for him -- stories that have circulated in the Valley for three years. He raped HP employees (figuratively, without violating the sexual conduct code at HP) by eliminating the 65-year concept of profit sharing, preferring to move to obscene bonuses for himself and his five top minions -- a mere $113 million payout for them in a year he chopped everyone else's pay by 5 percent plus profit-sharing. These were raises for some of the five people by as much as 400 percent -- a tidy uptick.

House was responsible for Software Engineering at HP during the era when the 3000's operating system was taking shape as a stable and productive resource. He's old-school Hewlett-Packard in the best sense, thinking independently back then and staying true to the company's roots. In his blog bio (and well as his book) the notes with pride that he "also holds HP's only Medal of Defiance, awarded by David Packard for 'extraordinary contempt and defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty.' "

On a Bay Area TV broadcast about the firing, House said he "couldn't contain my glee on the 11pm news -- best news for HP in a very long time!"

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An Introduction to Encryption's Powers

By Steve Hardwick
Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Editor's note: The 3000 community now counts on another provider of commercial encyption software in FluentEdge Technologies, which sells a programmer's toolkit to encrypt sensitive fields in IMAGE/SQL databases. To help explain the technical specifics of encryption and its value to IT, security professional Steve Hardwick of Mobile Armor offers this primer. While the article gets detailed and technical, it can help a manager have a more productive auditor experience, educated with crypto security fundamentals.

Over the past 30 years the science of cryptography has been significantly influenced by computers and networking technologies. Not only has this technology driven the demand for solutions, but it has also fueled the ability to crack cryptographic algorithms. This has spawned various forms of encryption and encryption algorithms.

Encryption systems provide a fundamental function: to prevent unauthorized access to secure data. Put simply, you have to keep the hackers out. Standards are crucial to successful encryption. By defining an open standard, security communities can analyze it and look for weaknesses that may be exploited by one of the bad guys. Another benefit is that less-sophisticated users get the results of work by more educated user communities. Further, since the standard is made public, knowing the mechanism of how the encryption is accomplished does not help you break it. It is the key that makes it secure.

Evolution to AES
In the 1970s through the early 1990s several different encryption algorithms were in play. Through the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), the US government defined a common algorithm for encryption in 1976 called the Data Encryption Standard (DES). A second landmark FIPS publication was issued in1994 that detailed how DES should be used in a full encryption solution.

This standard remained in effect until the late '90s. Due to the advent of better and more widely available computer platforms, DES was considered hackable by 1999. In fact, the initial public crack of DES was done in 1997 by a network of over 14,000 computers working in parallel. By 1999, DES keys were being publicly cracked in about 22 hours.

A short-term solution was to use the DES algorithm three times over, called triple DES. This had its shortcomings. In 1997 the search started to choose a successor to DES, later named the Advanced Encryption Standard AES. (Ed. note: You hear AES all the time now when vendors describe their encryption engines.)

Not only does this standard outline how encryption should work, but there are independent labs to validate the implementation. Upon successful completion of a validation, a certificate is issued to the encryption product manufacturer to show it has been tested and validated. This gives a public seal of approval for the encryption implementation.

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HP boots Hurd after compromising plays

FisherAgeOfLove copy copy Hewlett-Packard assembled a hasty investor briefing late Friday to report that its CEO was being dismissed because Mark Hurd's "professional and personal behavior that compromised his ability to lead the company." The behaviour includes $20,000 in fraudulent expense reporting; his personal payout to "cougar" actress Jodie Fisher who has a "close personal relationship" to the married Hurd; and an agreement tied to a $28 million golden parachute for Hurd that he won't sue HP over his immediate resignation order. HP guarantees him $12.2 million, with the rest expected in vested stock sales.

The flash-fire departure eclipses the Carly Fiorina ouster of 2005, and chairman Patricia Dunn's spygate "pretexting" resignation of 2007 over the company's last decade of management behavior. Fisher appeared as shown above in two episodes of the NBC reality series "Age of Love", one of 13 contestants on an 8-episode program that aired the same summer that Hurd hired her. The NBC web site for the show said Fisher was trying to "win the heart" of a 30-year-old tennis player as one of the "Cougars" dating Mark Philippoussis. Internet prowlers over the weekend discovered a demo reel of Fisher's acting produced for her and posted it to YouTube.

But HP assembles its troops today for a private webcast to debut the newest episode for the storied company. The story is that business as usual is the order of this day and each one to follow. Business, said HP's leaders on Friday, couldn't be better.

"Mark's resignation was in no way related to HP's operational or financial performance, both of which remain strong as evidenced in the earnings we pre-announced today," said HP General Counsel Mike Holston. "Rather, it was the result of his professional and personal behavior that compromised his ability to lead the Company."

HurdTForumMug Over a swift 48-hours after that briefing, details of Hurd's indiscretions surfaced about the 50-year-old Fisher, whose personal relationship to the CEO which began in 2007. Fisher, who's been an actress over the last 20 years as well as a sales executive, said she was hired by Hurd to work "at high-level customer and executive summit events held around the country and abroad. I prepared for those events, worked very hard and enjoyed working for HP." She also added in a statement that she's resolved a sexual harassment charge against Hurd privately.

Hurd's ouster was never her motive, she said. "I was surprised and saddened that Mark Hurd lost his job over this," she said. "That was never my intention."

Today HP intends to find a new CEO and chairman to lead a company that was at the pinnacle of computer industry revenues when the compromising behavior surfaced. Analysts are awash in wonder over how a Hewlett-Packard leader, credited around the industry with the company's turnaround, could be dismissed as just another executive player. HP said the board knew nothing of Hurd's relations with Fisher, and that it "found numerous instances where inaccurate expense reports were submitted by Mark, or on his behalf, that intended to or had the effect of concealing Mark's personal relationship with [Fisher]."

Hurd has been silent in the tale of the affair and wasn't part of the Friday HP briefing. When he joined HP in 2005, however, I reported in a podcast that he came into the job sounding different than the Carly celebrity he was replacing. "I will do everything in my power to live up to the leadership integrity that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard set up for this company," Hurd said during his hiring press conference.

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CEO Hurd resigns over harassment claim

HP today announced that Mark Hurd, the corporation's Chairman, CEO and President, has decided with the Board of Directors to resign his positions, effective immediately. HP also announced, in the same press release issued after the US stock markets closed, estimates of increased sales and profits for the quarter just ended.

Hurd HP appointed CFO Cathie Lesjak, 51 and a 24-year veteran, as CEO on an interim basis. She oversees all company financial matters and will retain her CFO responsibilities during the interim period. Lesjak is a frequent official resource during HP's quarterly analyst conference calls. HP reported these facts in a press release on its website this afternoon.

Hurd’s decision was made following an investigation by outside legal counsel and the General Counsel’s Office, overseen by the Board, of the facts and circumstances surrounding a claim of sexual harassment against Hurd and HP by a former contractor to HP. The investigation determined there was no violation of HP’s sexual harassment policy, but did find violations of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct.

Hurd said: “As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career. After a number of discussions with members of the board, I will move aside and the board will search for new leadership. This is a painful decision for me to make after five years at HP, but I believe it would be difficult for me to continue as an effective leader at HP and I believe this is the only decision the board and I could make at this time. I want to stress that this in no way reflects on the operating performance or financial integrity of HP.”

“The corporation is exceptionally well positioned strategically,” Hurd continued. “HP has an extremely talented executive team supported by a dedicated and customer focused work force. I expect that the company will continue to be successful in the future.”

HP filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission that reports Hurd will receive $12.2 million in severance. He also has the right to sell his fully-vested stock options during the company's next trading window, Aug. 23-Sept. 7. Hurd is also entitled to performance-based restricted shares granted to him Jan. 2008, and time-based restricted shares handed out Dec. 2009. Some calculations put his exit package at as much as $50 million.

HP's shares took a 10 percent hit in after-hours trading once the resignation was announced.

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What's the 2011 value of HP's 3000 license?

Just as the final five months of HP's 3000 operations unfold, the community has started to ask itself what value remains in a license for MPE/iX installations. An HP-authorized distributor recently reminded users about the five-month deadline to buy HP's software, licenses and media.

But the veteran 3000 trainer, migration-development consultant and advocate Paul Edwards said the 3000 owners of 2010 should be thinking hard about license value. Last month a reseller offered an N-Class HP 3000 for $6,000. But that 2-CPU, 500MhZ system was selling without a license. "Yeah, $6,000 for a licensed box would be a great deal," said Cypress Technology's Jesse Dougherty. Resellers call these unlicensed 3000s "parts systems" for now.

Edwards said he's seen customers who are totally frozen on MPE and 3000 spending because of mergers. "They're trying to keep from spending any money at all on a system because they're trying to sell the company," Edwards said. He added that he knows of companies that maintain an HP support contract to get one set of tapes, then install the OS and programs on the rest of their 3000s.

That would violate HP's license agreements, which keeps some customers tied to license transfers and fees. "What is the value of an HP license these days?" Edwards asks. As a former Interex director and OpenMPE director, he's listened to a lot of customers over 30 years.

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Patch testing a ragged issue among 3000s

Despite concerns from some independent 3000 software providers, a new patch testing service to replace HP's may not be needed for the community. If there's any demand at all, however, it could surface from an HP action starting in 2011.

Hewlett-Packard said in late '08 it will free up the beta-test patches that it engineered but never general-released (GRed) to the 3000 customer base. Patch testing crawled almost to a stop in the last five years, mostly because HP couldn't get customers to try out most bug fixes and feature enhancements it created while HP's lab still toiled on behalf of 3000 sites.

HP said in a notice to users in the fall of '08:

We will release to the HP ITRC web site the majority of all remaining patches that are still in what we call the “Beta Test Phase." These are patches that have had little or no customer exposure since being developed. [Until 2011] only customers with a valid HP support contract may request beta patches. This strategy... may allow us to test additional beta patches and move them into the General Release Phase.

HP said any beta-test patches which remain untested will be marked plainly when they go into public release. Those extra tests for beta patches since 2008, from support customers? Only a handful of patches got GRed since that announcement. HP's lab closed down two months after the '08 notice.

But ah, there are some custom patches being created for 3000 sites today. Just none we could locate that will alter the system's OS.

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Homesteaders, migrators both tout trends

While service pros at migration firms point at the limits of the 3000 lifespan, homesteading customers are answering with snapshots of substantial sites using the 3000 beyond 2011.

Some of the discussion is surfacing at the HP 3000 Community Group on (You can join for free for such discussions and networking among 3000 pros.) More than 180 members subscribe to the group, a membership spread across 3000 migration vendors and established homestead shop managers.

"No doubt this is a difficult time for many 3000 users," said Transoft's Sonny Goodwin. "But the decision to finally do something may be the hardest part. There are many companies that have been through it already, so while it may be something scary to those of you that are doing it for the first time, there are vendors that have re-hosted/migrated these applications for hundreds of customers for many, many years. It will cost some money and it will take some time, but it has to be done sooner or later and no one can afford to wait until it’s too late."

Bob Sigworth of Bay Pointe Technology countered with testimony that large-scale IT shops remain devoted to 3000 use. "It's a great machine with the best operating system I've sold in 35 years of being in this business." Bay Pointe also resells Sun and HP's Unix systems among other platforms. "What is amazing is how many very large organizations are still using the HP 3000 and have no intentions of migrating. I am still selling quite a few e3000 N4000's and of course the 9x9s. Some are parts machines, but many are going into production."

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HP gets new ally in IBM AS/400 migration

IBMSeriesi HP 3000 migration provider Speedware has announced it's joining HP in the drive to get IBM customers onto HP's Unix, Linux and Windows servers. Speedware said it will provide comprehensive AS/400 legacy modernization solutions with HP. Hewlett-Packard has been working since 2003 to get this part of IBM's customer base to use Unix. HP has called the effort mainframe modernization at times. Lately Alvinia Nishimoto, who served the 3000 community for decades, has been a driver in HP's migration push.

The work might be harder to spark than 3000 migrations, since IBM is still developing new servers and improving the operating system for what it now calls the Series i. But the community that refers to itself as AS/400 has been nervous in the spots that are vocal. Like the 3000 customers of the late '90s, they're convinced that IBM doesn't see their platform as strategic any longer. Sales have declined, but migrations are not as frequent as HP would hope.

We have tracked the iSeries issues since 2002, including a couple of Special Issues of the NewsWire aimed at a community that seems to mirror the HP 3000 profile. More recent developments show a more sketchy picture of opportunity.

Speedware wants to increase that momentum. The manager of marketing alliances at the company, Christine McDowell, said the company already has tools and some experience in migrating what it calls AS/400s.

"This new alliance with HP is a result of several factors: our extensive knowledge of this market, our 100 percent success rate in legacy modernization projects, and our long and successful partnership history dating back to when we became members of the HP e3000 Platinum Partners Program," she said. "Our end-to-end modernization solutions, including products such as the ML-iMPACT code conversion tool, remain integral components of our strategy for success in the AS/400 market."

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Large sites take big steps to 2011 futures

Large-scale HP 3000 sites are preparing for continued use of the systems in the year to come, the first one in four decades when HP won't support the system. Except that HP will still be supporting some 3000 systems, including a few the vendor itself has sold during the last year.

We've heard one recent report from a reseller about a rare HP sale of 3000s into a customer site. According to this story, the customer got a handful of N-Class servers directly from HP to replace older systems, cutting an independent reseller out of the deal. The reseller even said the systems had been transformed from HP 9000s N-Class systems. This transformation was a service HP offered a few years ago on customer request, if a customer couldn't find systems.

HP selling used 3000s, which were once 9000s, in 2010. We await the profuse denials from HP this ever happened. It only matters if you hear this platform is dead, or that this year is the End of Life. Maybe life as as HP knows it. HP once sent people to jail for turning 9000s into 3000s. HP has also left the door open for post-2010 support on a case by case basis. Here's language from this month's e3000 web page update:

Post 2010 e3000 Support
As always, customers that cannot migrate to other HP supported solutions by the announced December 31, 2010 End of Support Life date should feel free to contact their HP representative to discuss alternatives or potential local custom support solutions that might be made available.

Then there's a very public request for a quote to support a large 3000 installation during 2011. Mark Ranft posted the invitation to bid on the 3000 newsgroup. It's the first one we've seen so public, an RFQ that follows the trend of getting an independent company to take over for HP. Ranft is managing a network of more than 20 HP 3000s, and they're not small, old ones, either.

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