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User advice: have a spare CPU board ready

At the most recent CAMUS online user group meeting, Terry Simpkins of Measurement Specialties shared advice about getting a 3000 CPU board configured by HP in a downtime crisis. Don't do it, he advised. You can be ready for this with a on-site spare, just like his worldwide manufacturing company does for its 3000s.

Regarding the change HP will do for a Time & Materials fee to copy an HPSUSAN number to fresh hardware, Simpkins said, "It baffles me about why anybody would get themselves into a situation where they had to react like that -- why they wouldn't have a spare processor board already set with their system name and SUSAN number sitting on the shelf. Unless, of course, you're paying Hewlett-Packard to provide your hardware support."

HP won't offer that kind of hardware support full-time in about two weeks. (Well, for much of the world, although the vendor wants to retain support business on a selective basis.) Simpkins said creating this kind of hot spare is an easy thing to do. "I wouldn't have anything to do with HP when I'd get my extra board set to my SUSAN number. They are not the only people in the world who can legally perform that service."

Measurement Specialties is a $230 million company with operations in North America and China. It's not a firm that would fly under a legal radar just to have its 3000s supported independently.

Providers of this kind of service -- Independent Recovery Services ( comes to mind, but other indie support companies do this, too -- "have been vetted by HP's lawyers," Simpkins said, "and have been given a clean bill of health. To my knowledge, they will not do something untoward. But if you're sitting there with an HP 3000 running with an HPSUSAN number and an CPUNAME, I can't understand why anybody would not have a spare CPU board sitting in their closet, ready for that eventuality."

It's interesting to note that Simpkins called the CPU failure an eventuality rather than a possibility. Every bit of hardware can fail, and even solid state portions of a 3000 have this somewhere in their future.

There's an important distinction to observe about the setting of an HPSUSAN number. Applying this ID to a non-3000 board doesn't sit well with HP, although there's nothing the vendor can do about this, either. IN the past, entire PA-RISC systems have been turned into MPE-ready servers when they were sold as HP-UX devices. That's not the same sort of configuration as being ready for a board failure on your 3000. The downtime for an in-house replacement is a fraction, of course, of an HP response under Time & Materials contracts.

Customers are interested in finding satisfied users of the IRS services. Mark Landin, a 3000 system manager, posted this request on the HP 3000 newsgroup on Dec. 13.

I'd like to speak (voice, or by email) with anyone who's using a Capt Greb / IRS system in production. All such dialog to remain confidential.

The IRS solution, promoted by an engineer who calls himself Captain GREB, doesn't have public recommendations. But the solution is in use in the community, and Landin may find a manager willing to share experience with this alternative to HP support.