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Emulator field trial adds virtual disk ability

Supporting multiple virtual disks is just one of several enhancements Stromasys announced this week for its HPA/3000 field test emulator. The technical note sent to the field testers said that SCSI controller emulation in the product requires the use of specific disk drivers.

The 3000 gurus and vets who looked over this product at the recent HP3000 Reunion have asked about performance headroom: how much faster can this emulator get than existing 3000 hardware? It's a matter of software refinement, according to Robert Boers, the Stromasys CTO. But the field notes show there's already tuning-up going on.

We experimentally added the ability to set the emulated HP3000 to a larger six (max 8) as described in the configuration file. For this to work correctly, you need to install on the [emulator's] host [PC] at least 4GB more than the configured HP3000 memory. This is for the field trial only; the larger configuration will be issued as a separate e3000-A500 product.

The October 22 field note suggests that Stromasys is polishing its software quickly (the demo for the product took place one month ago this week). But it also indicates there will be many ways to customize the software product to create servers and disc combinations that might've been impossible to configure using HP's hardware for 3000s.

At the same time, the software has got its authorized HPSUSAN licensing well in hand. A remote key update procedure will provide the ability to modify this HPSUSAN number that's on the USB dongle. This is the kind of board reset that HP used to do using its own software after you'd buy a replacement CPU board. Since the procedure is remote, you won't even need a Customer Engineer visit to change an emulator's ID.

How could this come in handy? One instance is if you've got a valid license for a third-party software product under another HPSUSAN number, and that software vendor has gone out of business and cannot update its product.

Stromasys seems to understand that this is delicate territory while licenses are being adjusted. "We have not yet decided on a HPSUSAN modification policy in the future product releases," the field test note stated. "We would welcome input from third-party software providers."

They will need the input to gain the trust and cooperation the emulator must have. These HPSUSAN numbers are the keys to the cars, so to speak, for the software vehicles that 3000 users drive in business. A vendor needs to know that any remote update procedure will remain secure and controlled by Stromasys, to avoid the prospect of using somebody else's HPSUSAN ID on an unauthorized 3000. The technical complexity of spoofing this kind of ID swap is well beyond most of the 3000 community members. But the software companies do want to protect their keys.

Field test users are receiving their license keys this week, now "loaded with the correct FT license indlucing a specific HPSUSAN number, if requested." Stromasys was having trouble with a European FTP site for US customers, so today it's supposed to have a US-based FTP server online. In addition to delivering software updates, the FTP sites are being used to upload user disk images for problem analysis.