Heartfelt plea for cancer survivor's bike/run
Cloud ERP replacement looks for lift off

Emulator's field test program steps onstage

Key procedure Stromasys is conducting a wide-open field test program for its new CHARON HPA/3000, starting with a note shared by the company's CTO Robert Boers late last week. The note -- one of a series to be shared with any prospect or vendor who's interested in using PC-gaming hardware to emulate a 3000 server -- is especially interesting when it describes HPSUSAN IDs (see instructions above from the process document. Click for details). These IDs are the keystones to the walls which comprise the MPE/iX software castle.

USB dongles will carry these IDs in the virtualized hardware configuration. (That's the emulator, if you're using the old nomenclature). The USB keys are in the total control of Stromsys for manufacture, although they are metered by the MPE/iX license attached to a 3000. HP's not creating new licenses, so every CHARON HPA/3000 needs to descend from a licensed 3000. Boers said HP expressed no interest in managing the HPSUSAN process for these USB keys. For field testers, "We will provide the ability to set, upon request, a specific HPSUSAN number in the license key," he said.

Several vendors have already said they're willing to participate in the CHARON HPA/3000 market with their software -- at least on the basis of what's been demonstrated at the recent HP3000 Reunion. "Since Robelle still adds enhancements and continues to develop on the HP 3000 we are of course interested in supporting this environment and ensuring that our products can work on the emulator," said Robelle's Neil Armstrong.

Boers said the field test program will cost nothing, will pay testers nothing, but will earn them a discount on a licensed version next year. Testers can contact developer Igor Abramov to get FTP access for a download of the executable code for the emulator.

As of this week there's no Ethernet support; it's expected in the second half of October. Boers said that field testers could "count on several incremental field test releases per month. We expect a speed up of 3-4 times the current [115MHz A400] with the first product release," after the field tests conclude.

Stromasys has outlined the hardware configuration for running the software. The latter won't go on sale until Jan. 1. Field testers will need Ubuntu Linux installed in an Intel server with two CPU cores of at least 3GHz. CHARON-HPA/3000 runs under VMWare, "but you have to make sure that the VMWare environment provides enough resource to this client," the field test notes state. The hardware demonstrated at the Reunion used SSD storage.

The emulator's support only embraces PA-RISC 2.0 at the moment, so software that wasn't upgraded to the late-90s version of the 3000 chipset won't work today. Boers said at the Reunion demo that he'd have to give a lot of thought to engineering the product to support 1.0 code. The exclusion probably won't reduce the market for an emulator by much, although a few of the most prime prospects are sites where MPE apps haven't changed in more than a decade.

Birket Foster, whose OpenMPE work led to the creation of an emulator MPE license -- back in 2005 -- noted that some major apps like MANMAN only appear to have nobody left to approve a USB HPSUSAN scheme. "The intellectual property for MANMAN was transferred a couple of times," he said, "and is currently owned by Infor, who would have to be consulted on the topic of a licensed version for archive purposes."

Minisoft's Doug Greenup said his company would be interested in supporting the HPA/3000 with middleware and connectivity. Speedware's Jennifer Fisher said "we are very excited about this offering as well. We have many clients both on Speedware 4GL as well as a base of clients on MANMAN/3000 ERP who could benefit from this solution. We would love to get a beta version to test on behalf of our installed base."

Questions about which software can run on the emulator depend on licensing, as far as Fisher can see. "As with most software, technically it should run," she said. 'You just need to ensure you are not in breach of any software license agreements.  As a reseller of most of the technology that runs on the HP e3000, I'm sure most companies would just require a license transfer fee to continue using the software on the new hardware."