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September 2010

Restrict 3000 access, link web console, UPS

Is there a way to restrict access to only a certain user within an account? For example, I would only like user OPERATOR.AIS to have access to everything in the FILES.AIS group and account. There are users within this account that have AL and or GL access.

Gilles Schipper replies:

If you wish to restrict the group FILES to be able to be accessed by only the user OPERATOR, do the following:


This will restrict any kind of access to files within the FILES group to only the user OPERATOR, with the following possible exceptions:

1. Any user in that account that has AM capability cannot be denied access to files in that group.

2. If any other user in the account has its home group as FILES -- AND also has GL capability -- then that user will also have access to the files in the FILES group.

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Cognos hunts licenses as support recedes

At the same time that it's ready to end support of PowerHouse and other development products for the 3000, Cognos has revived its pursuit of companies to get extra license money.

The reports have come from both customers as well as third parties, although the latter group tells relates the stories without commentary. Cognos became notable -- some would say notorious -- in the 3000 world for its severe pricing of upgrades for its software. HP complained, on behalf of its customers during the 1990s, that the cost of upgrading PowerHouse was more than buying a new 3000 in some cases, killing deals and freezing 3000 expansion.

After a quieter period when the company's Automated Development Tools group dealt with customers and even extended support for MPE/iX PowerHouse, the upgrade force is back in the saddle. IBM purchased Cognos in 2008, in large measure for the company's business intelligence operations. But the ADT group is apparently still a revenue generating segment of this IBM colony -- and not just the lucrative support contracts.

Cognos has standardized on the same 8.43 version number for PowerHouse and PowerHouse Web across its platforms. But the letter that follows that number tells the story of a version's age. IBM's Unix, and HP-UX, bear a G in their versions. Those HP 3000 licenses Cognos is pursuing are frozen at version F, with Mature Platform Support set to expire at the end of December.

The fresh license bills are lower than those painful legenday levels, according to Pivital Solutions Steve Suraci. "They're really changed their price structure, going from tier-based to user-based," he said. "Much more realistic." A $50,000 cost has come down to $7-$10,000 on the deals he's seen. But placing a Time & Materials support call to Cognos on an earlier version "threw off the red flag" to licensing. "One customer had multiple license violations on multiple 3000s," Suraci said.

At least Cognos hasn't called its vanishing PowerHouse support for the 3000 "Vintage Support." That lively title is reserved, in a bit of irony, for IBM's own iSeries OS400. Cognos put that version on ice five years ago.

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Let Open Source Open 3000 Doors

A whole class of open source software -- tools and utilities -- can or can be made to work with the HP 3000, even if the software runs on other equipment. That's the advice from Brian Edminster, who owns Applied Technologies, a firm consulting to and managing HP 3000 sites both homesteading and in transition.

For example, Edminster says, the network graphing and trending tool Cacti can be feed by SNMP. "The 3000 has SNMP interfaces for quite a number of key statistics," Edminster said. Nagios is another tool that just needs a data-collection client to run on the 3000, allowing an MPE/iX box to be monitored just like any other piece of equipment in a company's network.

One of Edminster's customers is using something similar to but simpler than Nagios: Xymon (formerly known as hobit) to monitor and trend server statistics, as well as issue alert notices when user defined thresholds are met. "I've got a prototype client for the 3000s here, so they can be monitored and alerts generated," Edminster said, "just the same as any of the several hundred other servers in this network. And yes, I'll be making the Xymon client for the 3000 available as soon as it's fairly stable; it's still being tweaked."

He says these free tools are a pretty good example showing how open source tools can be used to help a 3000 fit in with existing infrastructure, and draw benefit from those tools as well.

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3000's CSL bounty bounds into new view

SwapTape89 After more than five years of obscurity and outright disappearance, the Contributed Software Library will make its debut on a server in plain view of the community. CSL utilities will come online from an Sereis 959 system hosted by the Austin-based Support Group inc. But the re-emergence of these classic, tested tools is the result of a complete team of companies and volunteers.

This is community in action: Client Systems provides the A-Class HP 3000, the ultimate-generation small system. It's installed in a rack at the Support Group, while OpenMPE treasurer Tracy Johnson, aided by OpenMPE director Jack Connor of Abtech, arrange for the correct software to be installed on the server. A disaster recovery version of the server is hosted at Measurement Specialties, where Johnson manages 3000 resources.

Connor said the CSL is among those community-created assets that needs to resurface. "Invent3K, the CSL, Jazz, and other tools and collections of works by folks for the past four decades should be available to the community," he said. "It seems as we've formed a sort of ad hoc group to move ahead on getting done today what is realistically doable."

Paul Edwards, formerly of the OpenMPE board and currently working on a 3000 education contract, has delivered a CSL disk from the year before HP canceled its 3000 futures. Now it's up to the rest of the community to pitch in, so the hidden gems of the CSL can shine for the first time since the Interex user group scuttled its assets including the library. Edwards has the most complete version that's out in the open -- and since he's a former Interex board director as well, has as much right as anyone to share what the community created.

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How Many 3000s, Once More

10,000Cover This year we've heard a question raised about a census, but it's not a query about the population of US cities or states. The population of the HP 3000 is on the minds of some companies still serving your community. As I explained to the latest person to ask this, just last week, the answer has drifted into the ledgers of lore.

HP announced that it had sold 10,000 minicomputers in the first 10 years of the system's life, a celebration marked in the fall of 1982. A few years later the company introduced the "Office Computer," capable of running in buildings without specialized cooling or floors suspended for extensive cables. This System 37 opened the door for another 10,000 systems sold within a few years. By 1987, HP said it had sold 20,000 units, even while the community waited on newer and faster RISC-based models.

The history grows fuzzy here, because HP stopped reporting its census of 3000s. Today's estimates range very widely. The Stromasys brain trust, which is now hiring a product manager for the HP 3000 Zelus emulator, believes there could be 20,000 HP 3000s still running around the world. That would be remarkable, considering how many systems have been replaced, even by newer models of 3000s. But since nobody knows the number of migrated systems either, no estimate is impossible. But another vendor, with far more history in the 3000 than Stromasys, believes five figures is possible.

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Bank marketer uses encrypted 3000 security

Software from an established supplier to credit card-processing firms is giving HP 3000s security audit features, including one vendor whose clients are banks.

Driven by a July deadline from credit card processors, owners of HP 3000s are turning to a set of tools and solutions to apply encryption security for online e-commerce. FluentEdge Technologies has been offering a two-fisted product set to punch up the transaction security on a server that’s still processing card payments.

AES 256-bit encryption is at the heart of the software. FluentEdge has one solution designed for Ecometry e-commerce sites, but another set of tools is at work for a 3000 application programmer to apply to in-house systems.    At banking services firm Harland Clarke, A Programmer’s Toolkit lets developers call an encryption routine on their own, if they prefer.

Systems programmer Lance Nickles said the routines FluentEdge developed were easily modified by for his in-house 3000 apps.

“They were able to make the routines standalone for us,” he said, “so we could pick and choose what data we wanted to encrypt.” The operation, which serves bank processing, uses 15 databases and 25 different tables which are either partially or wholly encrypted. Harland Clarke was already PCI certified, meeting the standards required by Visa for credit card handling.

The company sends marketing-based printed products with a credit card number printed on it, Nickles explained. “The account number is the way we identify that particular order.”

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3000 support firms still competing with HP

It doesn't matter what HP has told the marketplace about its march to exit the 3000 support business, says one independent 3000 support company. Hewlett-Packard is still taking steps to win support for 3000 installations large and small in 2011.

This is not an official worldwide HP position, notes Pivital Solutions president Steve Suraci. But all the talk of Dec. 31 being the absolute end of HP's maintenance for 3000 sites is a message that's not accurate in more than a few places around North America.

"It's very location-driven, but we're still competing against HP," he said. "Florida must be an area where HP feels they've got local resources, and can continue to support the 3000." His company specializes in 3000 support, so it's not like HP's bidding contracts which go up against Pivital's Windows and HP-UX support as well as MPE. The HP bidding extends to single-system, single-site customers, he added.

Other support companies confirm that HP is sending letters to 3000 sites to confirm 2011 support. It's a matter of inertia for HP to reel in the business it swears it will drop in December.

"For these customers it's easier to stick with HP, no matter what they want to charge them [for 2011], than it is to move to someone else's support. Like everybody else in this economy, HP is continuing to find ways to make money off the 3000." After "end of life" extensions in 2005 and in 2007, the reach of HP into the customer community continues. "To me, it's a little disappointing once again that they're finding more ways to complicate this." Suraci said. "I was looking forward to the day when I wouldn't be competing with HP for 3000 support. I'm still looking for that day."

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First Flashes of 15 Years Ago

FirstFlash I cranked up the Rolling Stones' song Start It Up in my CD player 15 years ago today and wrote the 3000 NewsWire's very first FlashPaper. It was an era where CD drives weren't standard equipment in either PCs or my Mac, but the Stones song was everywhere that month on TVs, as Microsoft rolled out Windows 95 and its new Start button. Bill Gates' company hired a stuntman to rappel down the side of the CN Tower in Toronto as a kickoff stunt, a moment which attendees of the HP Interex show had watched just a month earlier.

The FlashPaper was our way of making a monthly newsletter feel more like a weekly. We wrote each one just before the NewsWire went into the postal bins. It was our effort at printing news more current than the monthly 3000 magazines which have all died since that day in September.

I wanted the FlashPaper to sound as sassy as Mick Jagger and hoped the theme music might help. I wrote about how HP had changed its mind, once again, about who should lead its IMAGE database labs. Then R&D manager Harry Sterling would pick Tien-You Chen out of what I called a "well-stocked technical pool." Chen held the position for more than a decade, even outlasting HP's manufacturing of 3000 hardware. Those middle '90s were an era of re-starting crucial 3000 technologies such as IMAGE.

I was eager to send this first news salvo into the information fray. Too eager, in fact, because that issue of the Flash was the only one ever to bear a specific date: Sept. 21, 1995. Once our printer finished our main issue, 10 days later, we could finally start up our FlashPaper tradition. Print led our news flow so long ago.

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Eloquence adds 64-bit Win, UX improvement

Marxmeier Software founder Michael Marxmeier has announced a release candidate for his company's Eloquence database which includes improvements for HP's Unix, and the Linux environments which need IMAGE-like functionality. Marxmeier is calling the software B.08.10 update 1, a fresh version of the software initially released in July.

Eloquence has long supported Windows, including the 8.00 release, but the 8.10 version has been working toward extending its support of Microsoft's environment most preferred by migrating HP 3000 sites. "32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions are supported," Marxmeier said in a message on Friday. "Selected Eloquence components are installed both as 32-bit and 64-bit binaries, such as the database server and the client libraries. On 64-bit Windows, the installation program allows administrators to choose between activating the 32-bit or the 64-bit database server."

Eloquence received kudos for its IMAGE-like design from HP's own IMAGE labs more than eight years ago. Tien-You Chen, the IMAGE Lab Manager, spoke at the 2002 HP World conference along with Marxmeier, giving a talk together to help anoint the database as a best successor for companies which must leave the HP 3000. Robelle relayed Chen's Eloquence commentary when the database was new to the 3000 world.

Tien-You has been the Database Architect at CSY for years and is sorry to see TurboIMAGE retired, but he is "happy to tell you we have found a perfect replacement." It was interesting to have Tien-You Chen give this portion of the talk, since he was an independent source to review how compatible Eloquence and IMAGE are. It is important to note that although all the DB calls are compatible from an application perspective, Eloquence is certainly a different type of database under the hood.

This version of the database which behaves most like the IMAGE/SQL can co-exist with the 8.00 release, so users can cut over on a schedule that permits reliability testing. It can be downloaded, with versions for all of HP's 3000 migration alternatives, at Marxmeier's website. Since it's a release candidate, Marxmeier is still labeling the version as beta.

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IBM CEO calls HP's bluffed up growth deals

HPLogoAcquire It's a rare event when IBM's leader makes a point of commenting on Big Blue's top competitor. But at a Wall Street Journal-sponsored event this week, Sam Palmisano identified the true cost of driving innovation with company purchases, rather than engineering. Deals like the mad bidding war for 3PAR are going to cost HP's customers in the longer term, he said in a Journal story.

"HP used to be a very inventive company," Palmisano said in an interview at a Wall Street Journal event on Tuesday. IBM would never have paid what HP did to buy data-storage provider 3PAR Inc., he said. "[HP] had no choice," said Mr. Palmisano. "Hurd cut out all the research and development."

Palmisano Despite what Palmisano said, not all of R&D was cut by Hurd, although the board which ousted Hurd continues to wade into the bog of acquisitions a month later, buying up security company ArcSight. Back before the R&D cutting started, HP built things. In the '90s HP developed an HP-UX technology called Virtual Vault, an OS version where "unlike most other UNIX systems, the superuser (or root) does not have complete access to the system without following correct procedures." A decade later, Virtual Vault's development had decayed enough that the vault was being hacked with multiple security warnings. ArcSight isn't offering a Vault replacement, but such outside firms are innovating at a rate that keeps pace with today's needs. HP is buying what it no longer can afford to invent.

The problem for enterprise users like our readers lies in the budgets stripped out of HP labs. The company still sells enterprise products of its own invention, such as HP-UX, OpenVMS, and Integrity servers. Keeping those solutions current with customer needs, well, it's got to be funded somehow. ArcSight cost HP $1.5 billion, and 3PAR came in at $2.3 billion. While you cannot invent services expertise like the EDS workforce, products used to be so essential at HP that one former CEO felt compelled to include the word "invent" in a revamped HP logo.

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Today: last day to download free HP patches

The HP 3000 pulls even with all of the other Hewlett-Packard enterprise servers this week. All of these business systems are losing their free patch download service tomorrow -- which makes today the last day to download yours without charge.

Patches have been an included part of the HP computer experience since the 1970s. But like so many other aspects of Hewlett-Packard -- its R&D spending, boardroom ethics and morals, or the focus on products versus service-based business -- things have changed. Starting tomorrow, a paid support account will be needed to download fixes for bugs, enhancements to operating environments such as HP-UX, MPE, OpenVMS and NonStop. The charges apply to customers both migrating and homesteading. For the record, nobody else has the right to create an HP-branded patch, although there's been plenty of independent 3000 patches built over the last decade and more.

HP calls this move an "alignment with accepted industry standards for software practice delivery," but that's a canard that follows the wrong standards bearers. Oracle-Sun (Snorkle) has grubbed deeper into customer pockets for paid-only patching, to be sure, after rescuing the Sun servers from a steep dive. But IBM, which has outspent HP 2-1 over the last 10 years in R&D, does not charge for any patch repairs to its products, including those caused by manufacturer defects in coding. Calling these practices accepted is like telling an electric utility customer they're accepted higher rates. There's always going off the grid, isn't there?

Visit the HP IT Response Center website today, or download a full set using the Patchman utility, if you think you'll ever need a patch for an enterprise server. Patchman, created by former HP engineer Mark Bixby, is a script that uses the soon-to-be-defunct FTP patch portal to grab needed and recommended patches from HP's servers. Patchman is still available at Bixby's personal site,, at

Tomorrow starts the era of paying for downloads, even if your HP system will no longer receive official HP support starting Dec. 31. HP's allegedly not writing 2011 support contracts for MPE/iX -- more on that in a bit -- but its very special Time & Materials purchase prices will go into effect tomorrow. HP has also said that it is considering an extension of its faulty standards alignment to its enterprise products outside of the Business Critical Server unit -- looking at the Industry Standard ProLiant line. However, how HP would manage to charge for Microsoft's Windows patches, or those for Linux, is as baffling as how long-term business success can be a result of a 2.5 percent R&D budget. There are customers with unlimited support budgets who will pay extra to have a single point of support supply, of course.

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Upgrade sales bypass extra HP licenses

Right To Use fees are rarely being paid by customers upgrading 3000 systems. HP 3000 customers continue to upgrade their systems, even while some make progress toward migrating off the server. But the upgrade sales scheduled for next year and beyond, when HP ends all of its 3000 operations, don’t include a new license payment for most sites, according to resellers in the community.

HP developed the Right To Use (RTU) license in 2007 to cut off an end run to PA-RISC hardware not configured by HP for MPE/iX use. The RTU also included fees, ranging as high as $80,000, for upgrading older 9x8 systems to the ultimate generation of 3000s.

Upgrade customers are choosing not to pay the HP fee, a tax that the vendor doubted it would collect very often by now.

“With HP basically turning the switch off at midnight December 31, 2010, it looks to me that the RTU fee will be a non issue,” said Bob Sigworth, president of reseller Bay Pointe Technology. “HP will officially be out of the 3000 business, so I do not believe they will be trying to collect RTU fees.”

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Speedware offers time shifter for migrations

A software tool which helped 3000 sites during the last great migration -- the transition from 1999 to 2000 -- is being pressed into service for migration and legacy modernization projects, according to Speedware's Manager of Strategic Alliances Christine McDowell. Speedware is reselling Solution-Soft's Time Machine, a popular tool during Y2K work.

“The addition of Time Machine is a natural fit and a great value-add feature for our legacy modernization projects,” said McDowell. "Financial institutions, insurance and government are examples of industries where transactions occur that are event-based critical. Now Speedware customers can benefit from simplified and faster testing by using Time Machine."

The Solution-Soft utility was introduced in 1997, an era when adjusting the system time beyond Dec. 31, 1999 was a crucial test of application and system rewrites. It provides virtual clocks to facilitate app testing, what-if analysis and time zone adjustment. 

Speedware identifies its mission as modernization of legacy apps, as well as migration. It notes that "as legacy modernization projects involve an organization’s business-critical applications, testing becomes an integral phase of the project, ensuring that the applications run seamlessly after modernization. Transaction events triggered by system time are one of many basic elements used in testing application validity."

Using Time Machine "lowers risk when migrating applications by demonstrating the actual performance of the application at whatever date and time is chosen." The deal between Solution-Soft and Speedware gives the latter firm worldwide reseller rights.

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OpenMPE re-invents developer's resource

Ending its 18-month quest to restore a 3000 resource, OpenMPE re-opened an invent3k developer server on Friday afternoon. The new system, stocked with HP's 3000 software and patched with the latest MPE/iX, went online because the advocacy group set up invent3k2, a disaster recovery server in California.

The original HP 3000 server donated to the group for invent3k isn't online yet, but the arrival of the first tangible OpenMPE resource will render that disaster meaningless. HP first launched invent3k as a test of the power of open development tools in 2001, just six months before the vendor announced it would exit the 3000 community. The server's aim has always been to provide developer tools and account space to aid in 3000 porting and program design. Even in the years after HP pulled its 3000 plug, programmers tapped the free resource.

Tracy Johnson, secretary of the group, has marshaled an available HP 3000 at his employer Specialized Measurement for invent3k2. The server is a collaboration of volunteers' efforts, some still in progress. Johnson added that he can use help in configuring HP WebWise, the Web server that runs native on MPE/iX.

Johnson said members of OpenMPE (membership is free) can access the 3000 through a terminal window at the address, once they receive a user account and password from him via email. Requests for log-on information can go to any board member, he added. Accounts and passwords were being distributed before the weekend began.

HP's 3000 compilers such as BASIC, C, COBOL, FORTRAN, and PASCAL are available for MPE/iX users, as well as "Java from the MPE/iX 7.5 install manual and Perl," Johnson reports. "Use of invent3k2 will be free until December 31, after which time OpenMPE will start charging a fee."

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3000 vendor's buyback leverages new efforts

When Speedware purchased itself for $12.9 million this summer, it opened the doors for new efforts in migration operations, ones which the company recently extended to the IBM market as well as adding a new tool that enables migrating PowerHouse customers to Java.   

Speedware’s new ownership has already started to pursue fresh avenues. The company announced a major sales, marketing and support deal to use StrongHold software to migrate PowerHouse sites on 3000s to a Java architecture. StrongHold has sold the tool for more than six years, but the 3000 exposure will be new for the software. Speedware, on the other hand, says that PowerHouse has been an element in about 20 percent of the more than 130 migrations it’s completed.

The company is also diving into HP’s mission to get IBM AS/400 shops to migrate to HP’s Unix, Windows or Linux environments. A well-known migration tool, ML-impact, will help Speedware get these older IBM enterprises onto .NET architecture for migration and modernization.

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Speedware launches revival with buyback

A 34-year-old firm has returned to its 3000-savvy owners, including a share set aside for employees to invest in for careers serving customers in the community.

One of the top resources for 3000 migrations has taken hold of its own investment decisions again, as Speedware bought itself back from corporate owner Activant Corp. The purchase for $12.9 million opens the doors for new efforts in Speedware’s migration operations, ones which the company recently extended to the IBM market as well as adding a new tool that enables migrating PowerHouse customers to Java.

“For people who care about the HP 3000 and migrations, this is a great story,” said president Andy Kulakowski, whose roots with the system go back to programming on a Series III in the 1980s. The company sold itself to Activant in 2005 for $120 million, a deal that swung on the value of Speedware’s then-recent acquisitions of application customers in markets from automotive to building materials. Speedware's sold its entire group of operations -- including those units they'd acquired in places like automotive aftermarket applications -- to Activant.

Speedware has bought back its core 3000 business, along with the OpenERP application company which was once eXegeSys, and before that, MM II. OpenERP offers manufacturing suites on a wide range of environments.

Kulakowski said that soon after the company became part of Activant in 2005, “we felt somewhat orphaned,” being owned by a corporation that didn’t understand Speedware’s core migration and modernization business.

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HP, Oracle hurl claims of damage via Hurd

Former HP CEO Mark Hurd was scheduled to collect $12.2 million of his HP exit payout on Sept. 5. The very next day Oracle announced he was going to work for HP's rival in enterprise servers. The new job was announced one day after Hurd's payout was reported in SEC documents. Oracle plans to pay Hurd $950,000 in salary and a signing bonus not to exceed $10 million.

RD vs Income The costs to HP may go beyond a loss of face or the pillage of the company's R&D budget under Hurd. (The chart shows how HP's R&D budget fell at the same time company profits rose during Hurd's tenure starting in '05 -- and in Carly Fiorina's before him. It's easier to increase profits while you decrease R&D expenditures.) The day after Oracle announced its Hurd hiring, HP filed lawsuit 110-cv-181699 in California Superior Court to try to block the move -- sparking Oracle's Larry Ellison to issue a statement that paints the end of cooperation between the two longtime partners. Ellison said he cannot see how the companies can continue to work together in the face of HP's suit.

Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner. The HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate.

HP's sold tens of thousands of Unix servers with Oracle's help and software on the deal. Now HP asserts it's being threatened by Hurd's move to lead Oracle's sales and marketing force as a co-president.

The complaint says that "HP is threatened with losing customers, technology, its competitive advantage, its trade secrets and goodwill in amounts which may be impossible to determine." The suit accuses Hurd of breach of contract but doesn’t name Oracle as a defendant.

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Migrate or homestead data integration today

MBFAWebLogo A webinar at 2PM Eastern today examines data integration on the HP 3000, a modernization process that both homesteading customers or interim migrators can employ. David Greer, the marketing and sales director for MB Foster, leads a look at replication to targets such as SQL Server databases -- as well as historical access to HP 3000 data after a migration is complete. Registration is at the MB Foster website (link above).

The company has sold and supported its UDALink data migration and integration tools for more than 25 years in the HP 3000 market, as well as versions for HP-UX and Windows. In a project completed earlier this year, MB Foster migrated the UDALink suite to 64-bit Windows, a format that Microsoft will be requiring more often in the months to come.

Data integration is another type of migration, one that both customers leaving the platform and those homesteading can practice. Archival HP 3000s, running apps that contain historical data, are a part of many a migrated site. The system managers don't consider these 3000s production-class, but the data is still mission critical -- especially if a governmental agency or auditor needs proof of access.

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Hurd mentality slips into Oracle's boardroom

Ousted HP CEO Mark Hurd now has a new job title: President of Sales and Marketing for a mighty HP competitor. Hurd was named as one of two co-presidents of Oracle yesterday, less than a month after his unceremonious resignation from HP.

Update: HP has filed a suit to block Hurd's appointment to the Oracle executive team. The suit was filed in Superior Court of California in Santa Clara, The lawsuit centers around a confidentiality provision in Hurd's $28 million exit agreement from HP.

Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison was vocal about the HP board's mistake in letting Hurd go, a departure triggered by Hurd's business affairs with a marketing contractor with a Playboy layout in her resume. Hurd assumes a co-president's post vacated by Charles E. Phillips Jr -- who has left after an illicit affair gone so badly the woman bought billboard space to advertise the entanglement.

So as Hurd tries to slip into that already-warm seat at Oracle, HP enterprise computer customers face a new season of competition for their dollar. Not only can Oracle's new Sun unit bid for fresh Unix installations with a promise of extra-special system-database integration, but the deal will be offered by HP's latest CEO. The first part of that offer will sound familiar to a 3000 customer, even those migrating away. The HP 3000 found its first successes in the '70s with an advanced server-database integration design. And homesteading customers will continue to enjoy that integration, sans the moral dramas.

As for the second part of the offer -- a competing product, hawked by a just-cashiered CEO -- there's nothing remotely familiar to the 3000 user about that package. HP CEOs either retired to the likes of winemaking or politics, or found a place in venture capital or the graveyard. None of them have carried enough swagger or chops to step onto Larry Ellison's board, just 30 days after leaving with HP's $28 million resignation parachute. Ellison showed his admiration of Hurd with a tweet that called HP's ouster the worst move since Apple fired Steve Jobs in the 80s.

Hurd was admired by some segments of the HP enterprise customer and partner base. To be accurate, his results have been admired by those who did well to partner with an HP that boosted sales and profits during his tenure. Today that admiration needs to be extended to respect for a competitor, one who will surely take business away from HP's Business Critical Servers unit in the company's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking operation. That's the group selling the non-Windows alternatives to the HP 3000.

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3000 Labor Plus User Group Management

Today we celebrate Labor Day in the US, a way to mark the advances organized workers have won from management of corporations in our country. Those wins are ancient history, given the current outsource-globalized-contract strategy of businesses, including your IT industry. But there remains a place where a labor movement of another kind could make a difference in the value of using an HP 3000: A user group.

The HP 3000 customer lost a resource dedicated to all aspects of the server when Interex died five years ago. The Encompass user group, and Connect which followed, have the 3000 on their intake polls, but little to offer a company that won't be migrating off the server anytime soon. Labor might change that situation. Connect seems ready to embrace volunteer labor for the homestead community. The group can supply management.

One project is ready for volunteer labor. The effort would benefit from the organization of a formal user group. The classic Contributed Software Library (CSL) could be shared as a community resource if this collection of open source tools could get some organization: names of what's available, a slight summary of each program, an easy way to download them. Interex made the CSL available to members, something Connect is eager to attract.

A former Interex board member, Paul Edwards, has several collections of CSL programs, but he's busy working on education for HP 3000 professionals. Is there a labor resource out there that can put the CSL back into the toolbelts of 3000 pros? There's management ready to offer organization, but a volunteer's labor seems needed to complete the collaboration and free these contributions.

I interviewed Connect's executive director Kristi Browder and their new marketing exec Nina Buik last week. Both reported they would be glad for the participation of 3000 homestead workers. They need volunteers; there were a few talks between Connect and the Greater Houston RUG in 2007 that produced little interest from that veteran 3000 group. "It takes two willing parties to create that kind of relationship," Buik said, adding that there is a virtual cubicle available for a volunteer who'd want to use Connect to help organize HP 3000 homestead resources.

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Identifying Users for Next Year's Emulator

 Second of two parts

  The top management of emulator creator Stromays believes HP is washing its hands of the HP 3000. But Stromasys' Zelus cross platform virtualization software will need to resolve licensing issues beyond MPE/iX itself. Third party apps and tools have made the 3000 a great choice all along. In our Q&A with CTO Robert Boers and CEO John Pritchard, we talked about making Zelus look like a particular size of 3000 -- an aspect that impacts the cost of licensing for tiered HP 3000 software.

Boers: Unlike physical hardware, you can run this emulator on a number of different platforms with different performances. A lot of the third party licensing is based on performance. If we don’t do anything, then there’s no performance information there. I want to know from the third party software providers if that’s okay, or what we can do technically with ease, in order to provide information about relative system performance [of the emulator.]

    We can emulate a system ID string as a standard. Every time you install an emulator you buy another license key.  Whether to some extent software vendors want to link to that.

    We addressed this a couple years ago, when we did our first attempt. I didn’t really get information in that area — except for comments that it should really be HP, in their software transfer licenses [of MPE/iX], who should take care of that. But obviously, HP is pretty much out of the game by now.

You say first attempt — how far back does your emulator work go?

Boers: We built our first 3000 emulator in 2003, but we never we never got to the end of that, because at that point in time, HP didn’t want to give us the technology needed to make the MPE licensing work. And we didn’t want to reverse engineer that part of it.

Continue reading "Identifying Users for Next Year's Emulator" »

Emulator creators boot product in real time

First of two parts

A long-awaited 3000 hardware emulator appears to be on its way to market, as Stromasys this summer announced a development, test and shipping timeline for Zelus. The product is described as a “cross-platform virtualization system” by the company that was founded as a spin-off from the Digital Computer European Migration Center in 1998. Stromasys, which called itself Software Research International until last year, has thrived on an emulator for DEC customers, those who need to keep using Vax, Alpha and PDP-11 hardware to support legacy applications. HP put the 3000 effort at Stromasys on ice for more than a year while it cleared the transfer of MPE boot technology for the emulator.

The software has more to offer than making companies able to use 3000s indefinitely. Stromasys says Zelus will buy time for the sites which are migrating and need more connectivity and power for their interim 3000s during a migration.

Robert Boers headed up the company during 2009, but this year brought on John Pritchard as CEO so Boers could focus on the tasks of being the firm’s CTO. In the wake of the company’s announcement about Zelus at the recent HP Technology Forum, we interviewed the pair via Skype, bridging the gap between Texas and their Swiss headquarters -- even as the company works out details to bridge what will be an 8-year gap in 3000 manufacture when Zelus goes on the market next year.

Your press statement on Zelus says the product “ensures continuity after the phase-out program of the HP 3000 hardware.” Do you believe that’s how your customers will  view the situation: phasing out the 3000?

Pritchard: For people who have mission critical legacy systems, they believe all of their hardware are on life support. What we’re offering is to shift their focus away from worrying about hardware maintenance to giving them a software platform life that is independent of a hardware platform.

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Whatever got conjured up about Invent3k?

IsItUp The 3000 community marks an anniversary this September. A year ago this month, users and vendors were promised that the invent3k public  development server, whose 3000 software HP had already shipped to an OpenMPE volunteer, was online and ready to use. At last year's e3000 Community Meet, about 40 people were on hand to hear that on Sept. 23, all you needed was to request an account to use something being called

What's invent3k? A novel experiment from the best of HP's 3000 team, a full load of HP software and disk space to set up development accounts. Considering that HP charged about $100,000 for this collection, making it available for public use was a pact with a community worried about the 3000's future. HP even went on to create an HP 9000 version of the concept. HP shut invent3k down in 2008, but then gave the software to OpenMPE.

Let's get back to last September. Three weeks went by, and then three months, and by the end of six months I'd stopped asking when invent3k would become a community resource once again. I stood in the room at the Hyatt in San Francisco in 2009, reading the slide (shown above) which told us the portal for invent3k was available "through the generous donations of Client Systems and Matt Perdue."

The 3000 hardware? Client Systems sent it. The invent3k software, a full collection of HP subsystem applications like COBOL II? Not online back then at that address, or now. My dismay at the delay turned to despair by this summer, as it became clear invent3k wasn't emerging as a 3000 resource, one managed as promised by Perdue.

It feels good to volunteer when the need is obvious. It can be a tougher thing to volunteer a promise and then keep it -- and perhaps even more of a stretch to describe something as accomplished, but then be unable to meet that pledge.

By a reporter's habits I was recording the events of that largely-upbeat September day. One talk after another fell through my video lens, a collection of proof that the system could still rally a community. But as you can hear for yourself on the 90-second video we've posted up on YouTube, we could only witness one report of invent3k's status. The promise comes from off-camera, but not as far offline as has been during the past year.

Continue reading "Whatever got conjured up about Invent3k?" »