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March 2012

Ordering a Hamburger, HP-Style

BurgerThis Friday might be a day of heavy lifting for your IT department, with it being the final week of March as well as the end of the first quarter. Even though that HP 3000 will be running reports, it's good to have some oversight ready. You might be eating lunch at your desk -- or supper, if anything needs attention. Maybe something as simple as a hamburger.

But a classic style to HP hamburger ordering -- one that might be as old as the eldest 3000 in your shop -- could leave you dizzy. Not long ago, your community shared this gem. One manager said "I remember telling my HP Sales rep that you needed a PhD to read the configuration manual. The sales rep took the manual from my hand to explain to me how wrong I was. After a 30-minute tutorial, the rep decided it was best if he could call me from his office with the answer."

On a day when you might need a smile from satire, the Hamburger Guide follows after the jump. As the late, great Warren Zevon advised, "Enjoy every sandwich."

Continue reading "Ordering a Hamburger, HP-Style" »

Community links in on migration, emulation

A lively discussion of migrating off the HP 3000 is on the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community discussion boards. (We're bearing down on the magic 500+ member count for that group; joining such a group makes your profile on LinkedIn rise up for people seeking IT experts.) Members in the discussion included developers of the MM/3000 MRP application built for MPE/iX -- maintained by HP until it was sold to eXegeSys -- and then revamped as an independent app. Others sharing their experience included consultants from Speedware and MB Foster migration teams, plus some advice about the hardware emulator alternative that might pump more useful years into such an MPE app.

Randy Thon of Cessna Aircraft said that “one of the main reasons we are still on this application and platform is that it is cost effective and solid, and all development and management of the system is within the Maintenance Department. But this year we as a company are looking at moving from the HP 3000 due to supportability, mainly due to hardware.”

Advice below followed a line of study about size of migrations as well as other alternatives.
Randy, why not move to the newer A-class hardware? It supports native fibre for high speed fault tolerant arrays. Plus it would run circles around the KS969.
- Craig Lalley

You could also consider using MB Foster to migrate the same application over to Unix.
- Tony Ray

Tony, the eXegeSys team spent years trying to migrate MM/3000 to Unix and ultimately gave up and sold the intellectual property. 11.7 million lines of COBOL, SPL, and Pascal is a big beast to move.
- Jeffrey Lyon

Ah, the COBOL is not a problem, but re-creating the SPL and Pascal would be the problem. I understand. It is quite unfortunate that the HP 3000 had to stop. There will never be a better machine. I have worked on them since 1976 and know that several are still running. I own two myself.
- Tony Ray

Continue reading "Community links in on migration, emulation" »

Making An HP 3000 More Secure

The Internet includes a wealth of advice, but it also harbors guidelines for IT malice. Not long ago the HP 3000 mailing list and newsgroup included a message that pointed to a pair of documents about hacking into the HP 3000. One expert in the system said these were dated, but still effective.

There's always been a lot in MPE that makes your servers more secure, of course, plus independent software to bolt its doors shut. (Security/3000 from VEsoft comes to mind. User Robert Mills says that "it is well worth the cost and time involved in setting up.") Even MPE's included passwords and permissions usage might be in the dim recesses of your memory, however. Consultant Michael Anderson of J3K Solutions supplied some refresher material.

An easy way into a MPE box is when the default passwords are left unchanged, like the TELESUP account and a few more third-party accounts that are well known. Securing your HP 3000 is simple.

1. Set unique passwords on all user/accounts, and maybe even groups.

2. Use PASSEXEMPT to avoid keeping passwords in job streams, enabling you to change passwords frequently.

3. Make sure ACCESS= & CAPABILTIES are set properly to avoid the use of the RELEASE command.

4. Programatically audit, audit, and then audit some more!

When anyone does log on, there are more options as well.

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Protecting HP 3000s Using Linux

While HP 3000 sites deploy Linux servers this year, some of them are using the environment as a buffer for 3000s which need to be in range of the Internet. James Byrne, who's hosting the website as well as managing IT project for Harte & Lyne, outlined his setup to use Linux for 3000 protection.

Byrne has his HP 3000s and the internet buffered by a dual-homed Linux box in front of the HP 3000, using that to provide firewall, SSH, and proxy services. He describes his setup a fairly primitive (where  GW/FW=gateway/firewall):

Internet-> GW/FW <-> Eth0:Linux:Eth1 <-> HP 3000

The network connection to the gateway/firewall provides our public routable access.  The link between the Linux front-end host and the HP 3000 is a x-over cable using a block address. Direct network connections to the HP 3000 NIC are physically impossible. This ensures physical network security over the non-encrypted portion of the network (for SSH access).

There are a wide assortment of Linux-based firewall appliance distributions which may simplify set up somewhat for novice users. Alternatively, one can simply use a mainstream Linux distribution, or a derivative like RHEL/CentOS or Debian/Ubuntu, and add and configure the packages desired.

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Unix futures take Odyssey to good enough

Customers who are being wooed toward Unix from the HP 3000 have some good right-now reasons to choose HP-UX. The power of virtualization and ability to exploit an OS+hardware solution make the HP Unix an enterprise-grade choice -- one of the reasons that HP and its partners work to sell AS/400 and IBM mainframe sites on this switch. If just as with the HP 3000, you have an integrated value in the IT center, software built for specialized hardware like Itanium makes sense today.

The future might not be great, but good enough. HP's Odyssey project wants to bring "hardened" features to Linux, an OS more 3000 sites are now choosing when they move. Europ Assistance is the latest 3000 site we've learned about that's adopting Linux. HP doesn't want to be left out of the Linux currents. While there's a clear five-year future of HP-UX, the years beyond that are less defined. Since companies like Europ Assistance are going to take multiple years to make a migration, few of them want a future shorter than a decade.

Even the friends of HP's enterprise strategies see HP's Unix as an early casualty of the Odyssey. Dr. Bill Highleyman edits the High Availability Journal and judged the prospects of Odyssey success.

If Project Odyssey is wildly successful, it may drive a huge competitive advantage for HP. However, if HP customers embrace the move to highly reliable standard operating systems, HP-UX may be the first to go, since migrating Unix applications to Linux is a reasonable task.

It's commonplace to find HP-UX administrators on the LinkedIn forums who see Linux as their natural evolution path. But those companies are already enjoying the value of Unix, instead of paying for the move. It takes unusual features in an OS to protect it from this kind of wild success -- and as HP 3000 customers know, even a tech solution that is great can be overrun by good enough.

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HP 3000 Product Futures at Fresche Legacy

InfocentreAdLong ago -- in the distant past of a computer so storied that it has a distant past -- 4GLs promised extra hours on the clock and extra days on the calendar. Although HP tried for a foothold in 4th Generation Languages, only two companies made a 3000 business of it. Both Cognos and Speedware products still drive 3000s today, 28 years after the ad above appeared in Interact magazine.

Speedware didn't use its product name to indentify the company back then. Starting this week, it will once again have a name that differs from its established 4GL. It was Infocentre back then, a company with a word in its name spelled differently. Now it's Fresche Legacy, but it's still supporting the same 4GL that it was selling three decades ago.

Fresche Legacy's president and CEO Andy Kulakowski said this week that Speedware, the 4GL, remains in place on the new company's price list. He even promised there will be enhancements, some to the version of the 4GL that runs on 3000s -- if customers demand them. The ISV Softvoyage, for example, still builds its travel-business apps on a bedrock of Speedware.

"As they need new features in the wide variety of operating systems they support," Kulakowski said, "we continue to evolve Speedware to support them. That will continue based on customer demand. We feel very loyal to those customers. We still have resources in house that are continuing to make changes to those products. There are a couple of enhancements that were made over the course of this year for the 4GL."

Several other products at Fresche Legacy have HP 3000 connections, but they relate to the ability to migrate or alternative-host MPE/iX applications and data. Kulakowski said those products have a future in the new company business plan, too.

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How old is HP, anyway? Now its CEO knows

Whitman-2012Computerworld is reporting this morning on another element in HP's annual shareholder meeting. Yesterday the company announced its Global Sales group is now part of an uber-unit including enterprise servers. Oh, and PCs and printers now come from the same group. But the gathering of officers and investors, some less institutional and older than its CEO, included a history lesson. The newest CEO apparently didn't know the age of HP.

Meg Whitman, who's been on the HP board even longer than her seven-month tenure as CEO, has been telling the world HP celebrates its 70th birthday in 2014. HP's one of the few Silicon Valley companies that old, she brags. Except that birthday already arrived almost three years ago. In 2014, HP will be 75, "according to the company's website," Computerworld said in its story. Of the "70 in 2014," it said

It's a line Whitman's been using for the past few months as she tries to drum up enthusiasm for the new, reinvigorated HP she hopes to build. The only trouble is, it appears to be wrong, as an elderly shareholder gently pointed out to her.

"I believe HP was founded in 1939," he said during the question-and-answer session after her talk. Wouldn't that make HP 75 in 2014?

"For three or four months I've been telling people we're going to set HP up for the next 70 years because we're 70 years old, and you're the first person to correct me on that, so thanks very much," Whitman said.

Continue reading "How old is HP, anyway? Now its CEO knows" »

HP shuffles to protect print-ink, server biz

Remember when the HP printer business drove the company's profits and revenues? As recently as 2003, the Imaging and Printing Group generated 55 percent of HP's income, an amount that led one IBM speaker at a 3000 conference to call HP "Inky." Today HP poured its printer and ink business -- which spews its profits from those $20 cartridges -- into the company's PC bucket.

JoshiAt the same time that the declining fortunes of printing triggered this sea change, Hewlett-Packard sent its Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) group into a much broader new segment, called the HP Enterprise Group. ESSN joins HP Technology Services (think consulting and cloud) and Global Accounts Sales -- which will be getting a new sales chief. Jan Zadak, a Czech EE with a Ph.D. from the Czech Technical University, is stepping down as Sales EVP after 10 years at HP. He arrived in the Compaq merger. David Donatelli, who joined HP in 2009 from EMC in a contested hiring, will lead Sales, Tech Services, and ESSN .

Few sales efforts in HP have battled headwinds as hard as the ones buffeting ESSN. It sells Linux and Windows servers based on the popular Intel Xeon family with some success, but also the HP-UX, NonStop and VMS environments that are subsisting on an existing base. Hewlett-Packard is working the IBM markets for new Unix installs. But that ex-mainframe business tends to go to Windows when HP succeeds, as it did at Yale-New Haven Hospital not long ago. The hospital wasn't replacing its HP 3000s, by the way.

The slackening sails of printer and ink sales pulled EVP Vyomesh Joshi into retirement. Known as VJ during his 32 years at HP, the executive also arrived with an EE degree, going to work in R&D. He's on the Yahoo board of directors.

Todd_bradleyTodd Bradley, who joined HP from Palm Computing and took over PCs in 2005, now takes the helm on an HP vessel that analysts are calling "trailing business." It's market-speak for products in decline, and for the moment the decline is around printing -- selling at 2005 levels by now -- rather than PCs. But HP hasn't shown any more PC growth in the last three years than anyone else in the business not named Apple. PCs have been flat to declining. Bradley now is the king of the consumer end of HP, the one that former director Dick Hackborn puffed up through the '90s with retailed ink and printers, and in the early Oughts with PCs. The days of HP-branded music players, TVs and cameras as leading businesses are over. A single camera pops up on the HP website today, and the HP flatscreens are history, too.

Continue reading "HP shuffles to protect print-ink, server biz " »

Speedware leaps into Fresche Legacy brand

FrescheLogoSpeedware is growing beyond its 36-year-old company brand starting today, becoming Fresche Legacy. The move that completes the company's 2010 repurchase of itself from Activant aligns it with a new business focus on IT legacy management. While the company continues to support HP 3000 software products like its 4GL and migration tools, it will take mission-critical applications and enhance them to support the growth of business needs.

It's also aimed at making IT less of a fire-fighter at a company, to evolve into more of a value generator for customers. The rebranding includes a motto of "IT can make you smile." President Andy Kulakowski says the expansion of the Speedware mission flows from engagements with legacy users outside of the HP 3000 community.

Kulakowski"We know this is very bold," Kulakowski said. "Rebranding ourselves is a demonstration of how much we believe in this. Here we are dropping a name we’ve held for 36 years. We felt it was a good to rebrand ourselves according to the new value propositions we offer. Legacy tends to have a negative connotation because it refers to old stuff. We call it Fresche Legacy because that’s what we do: freshen up legacy environments. We make people happy with our 100 percent referenceability track record, and we really believe that IT can make you smile."

The HP 3000 business opportunities for the company over the past fiscal year didn't include any migration project start-ups, he added. It was the first in 15 years without a transfer or replacement of a 3000 customer's operations. Kulakowski noted that three application support contracts were launched last year for the HP 3000 segment at what's now Fresche Legacy. The Speedware 4GL enhancements are still being engineered as needed by the customers, along with migration-related software such as AMXW, he added.

"We’re still very loyal to the HP 3000 and active in the community," he said. "That doesn’t change for us. It’s served us well for 36 years, and we’ll continue to serve our customers with the same care. The Speedware brand will continue. It’s a brand that represents the software tools of the past, including the migration tools of the last several years."

What's been growing for awhile at Speedware has been engagements in the IBM mainframe and AS/400 replacement business. In July, 2010 on the heels of its buyback from Activant, Speedware joined HP in a drive to get IBM customers onto HP's Unix, Linux and Windows servers. That effort provided AS/400 legacy modernization solutions in tandem HP. Hewlett-Packard has worked since 2003 to get IBM customers to adopt HP-UX. Speedware also purchased the ML-iMPACT code conversion tool for AS/400s in 2010.

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Finding Vintage App Support: Protos

Commitments to the HP 3000 for enterprises demand support resources. There's a limit to how much expertise a company can carry for applications and code that might be more than 15-20 years old. At some point, homesteading firms need to reach out for application support that's not on the payroll.

ProtosOne good example is software written using Protos, a 3+ GL used in the '80s and '90s in HP 3000 environments. Protos gave its sites a way to code using advanced, time-saving functions, but the output from this language was COBOL. The company gave way to changes after Y2K and ended support, but Protos code lives on in a few mission-critical uses.

We've run across an independent support pro who counts Protos among his skills. Clint Ellis, of Ellis Dodge Technical, included Protos among a toolset of 3000 staples such as COBOL, Pascal, Fortran and Basic. He's also consulting on Linux, so there's a range of services available from him. Protos has been found at migration sites, too.

These are the sorts of skills that any application support provider should be able to locate and engage on behalf of a 3000 customer. Application support is a growing segment of business for 3000 vendors who are serving the homesteading customer. As migrations decline in your community, the experts who made them possible are making a transition into such support.

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IBM's legacy platform grapples with future

20i2IBM has risen on the radar of the companies supplying expertise to legacy tech users. While "legacy" has a distinct sound of a sneer coming from a pop-tech provider, these legacy systems like HP 3000s, AS/400s and mainframes drive a lot of business in our modern day. When you drive even deeper into legacy to consider COBOL, the population using it swells to a majority.

The situation in IBM's legacy world bears a close look, so you can see how a vendor the size of Big Blue is handling less-trendy tech customers. IBM has continued to update the server system that's viewed as a close cousin to the HP 3000. However, a lot of the customers who use what's now called "System i" haven't updated anything since the servers were called AS/400s. As it turns out, the term AS/400 is considered a sneering epithet, according to a report at the System i Network. Trevor Perry, a consultant in that market, explains.

The debate is not about the name, but how we perceive the platform. If we see it as an AS/400, we will use it like it is 20 or 30 years old. If we see it as IBM i on Power, we will use it like it is a modern platform. IBM i can do so much that AS/400 could not, yet much of the community is still using old technology, old techniques, old standards, and writing outdated applications. If the community were more aware of IBM i, and what it could do, our platform would have an improved reputation out in the community and in the industry at large. What a fabulous thing that would be.

The definition of legacy extends to whatever technology can be out-featured by a more popular solution. Unix trumped by Linux. IBM z mainframes trumped by Unix big iron, the kind that HP yearns to sell to find new HP-UX customers. Legacy is stable technology and cost-effective. But even a vendor of legacy tech like IBM wants those customers to advance their abilities by installing newer System i "legacy" releases.

ChrisawardsmThis kind of advocacy is called championing at IBM. The vendor devotes a webpage to System i Champions, culled from the customer and consultant community. HP used to do this for 3000 users with its annual e3000 Contributor of the Year award (2006 winner Chris Koppe of Speedware, shown above), whose final recipient in 2008 was the entire customer community. But every one of those winners mounted the stage past 40 years of age. The System i user group COMMON sees a need to try to connect with younger IT pros -- but there's not much online evidence that it's finding the target.

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Migration Toward Futures, Staying or Going

After 25 years serving 3000 customer needs and expansions, MB Foster became an HP Platinum Migration Partner right out of the box a decade ago. It arrived amid the fresh chaos of that 2002 springtime along with Speedware, MBS and Lund Performance Solutions, and only Speedware remains in the 3000 business among those three cohorts. As his company celebrates 35 years in the 3000 market this spring, we asked founder Birket Foster about the start of the migration era. He notes that hundreds of customers remain as devoted to the 3000 as they ever were.

When did the migrations start in earnest?

    People started getting serious in 2006. But we still have customers that are running on an HP 3000 today, hundreds of them. They're doing what they need to do to stay where they are. I was talking to one yesterday running a very big contracting business. They were just getting their SAP live and now realizing they have to decommission their 3000. People get their replacement application but forget they have regulatory reasons to keep their data around.

    It's really important that people think these things through before they start migrations, because they can do things during the migration that will simplify things during the decommissioning process.

What are the latest prospects, from the perspective of a company working 35 years in this market, for the long-term HP 3000 user?

    We're just in the beginning of setting things up at MB Foster to work with Stromasys, benchmarking the access of our ODBC and JDBC access to data. We're making sure our UDA product line will run in the Stromasys 3000 emulator environment. That environment was cleared by a little side project I did as a volunteer: helping the 3000 world deal with Hewlett-Packard from an advocacy point of view. OpenMPE was something I chaired, after being recruited by John Marrah of Amisys.

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Marking History with a Link to 3000 Futures

BirketReunionOn the 35th anniversary of MB Foster’s entry to your market this spring, we wanted to ask its founder Birket Foster about how your group grew experience and connections. The old warning that braced conversations in the 1970s was “don't trust anyone over 30.” It's probably flipped over for the advice to 3000 customers today, since the over-30s have the best set of resources and reminders of how to move into a confident future. Much of his research is gathered in classic style, in person, wearing conference badges like the one shown at right.

Foster's MB Foster Associates was one of the first to deliver an alternative information stream for 3000 solutions, creating a catalog of MPE applications and tools. That one was a good enough idea to prompt HP to copy the catalog concept in those days when a thick book of HP and third-party apps was part of a 3000 manager's toolset. Foster moved right on to the next solution, whether it was selling millions of dollars of 3000 connectivity software, or building an ODBC engine robust enough for HP to ship inside MPE/iX, or becoming one of the first Migration partners after HP made its 2001 exit announcement. Lately the company has added a Windows scheduler and even more database access through its UDA Link lineup.

How did you enter this community back in those very different days of 1977?

    I'm just out of undergraduate school and I'm in charge of getting the next computing jobs for a team of us. I decide I'm should start a company to do this, so I talk to my law professor and he says he could give me part of my grade for my second year law class for just opening a company. I took the theory and turned it into practice. At the time I'd taken income tax law. I could deduct the $400 worth of textbooks and reference books I'd purchased to build a random number generator that would support benchmarking software -- written in COBOL and platform-neutral -- we were building.

Platform-neutral suggests a lot of server vendors, right?

    In addition to HP, I'd worked on Burroughs, IBM, DEC and even a Xerox Sigma system. So I'd written things in FORTRAN, BASIC, assembler and COBOL. When people would put a problem in front of me, I had to pull a team together to solve it. In the 1977 ecosystem there were a lot of different languages available. Every manufacturer had its own proprietary stuff. I had an assignment to train government DP staff to use terminals instead of punching card decks.

    Terminals were just terminals, grey screens. Lots of line printers around. I liked terminals with big memories, so you could actually scroll back a lot of pages. At that time the default terminal memory had two pages in it. Disk space was really expensive then: 120MB was $60,000.

    People had service bureaus. I worked with one for one of my customers. The reason we were there was because the 3000 was so expensive. Now the reason people are looking at cloud, the new service bureaus, is because the people are so expensive.

Continue reading "Marking History with a Link to 3000 Futures" »

Vision from the past predicts 3000 futures

Print-ExclusiveA span of 35 years is pretty much all of the HP 3000's useful lifetime. Birket Foster's company has lived and thrived on the stage of your 3000 community for 35 years this spring, stretching back to the days when his custom-written programs had to reside in a space of less than 8 kilobytes and exchanging information about 3000s was best done in person at a user group meeting.  

   It's not all just looking backward after 35 years with Foster. When we last interviewed him in 2009, he made predictions about the state of the 3000 community in 2012. He gave a forthright review of how those turned out, including those that could be judged either way. 

   We spoke with Birket -- a first-name fellow who we consider one of the best hubs for 3000 data -- just before Superbowl Weekend started. A few community veterans have a saying about him. “He was the Internet before there was an Internet. And he's still the Internet.” We like to stay online, and believe you'll benefit from his connections, too, whether it's links to a 3000 foundation, or connecting the dots for the future.

Let's look over your three-year-old predictions for this year. How'd you do on who remains in the market? You said maybe 10 percent of the original installed base is left.

   There's still hundreds of machines out there. There might even be low thousands.

You believed PCI credit card security would be an issue in getting migrations underway.

    PCI has been an issue with some customers. Some have worked it out by installing a PC between the 3000 and all those PCI requirements, and the PC manages it properly for them.
HIPAA regulations were going to be a factor in migrations, you believed.

    More and more people are moving to packaged software there, because the cost of administering healthcare is now being regulated by the amount of funding people get from the government. The government won't give them the money if the administration cost is too high, and the 3000 packages won't necessarily meet that.

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Set your 3000 clocks all the time

It's not too late this morning, even if it seems like it when you look at your watch on the first Monday after the time change. There's still time to get your HP 3000 clock set accurately. Last Friday the community was trading tips and technique about how to get on time. Donna Hofmeister, whose firm Allegro Consultants hosts the free nettime utility, explains how time checks on a regular basis keep your clocks, well, regular.

This Sunday when using SETCLOCK to set the time ahead one hour, should the timezone be advanced one hour as well?

The cure is to run a clock setting job every Sunday and not go running about twice a year. You'll gain the benefit of regular scheduling and a mostly time-sync'd system.

In step a-1 of the job supplied below you'll find the following line:

    !/NTP/CURRENT/bin/ntpdate "-B"

Clearly, this needs to be changed.

If for some dreadful reason you're not running NTP, you might want to check out 'nettime'. And while you're there, pick up a copy of 'bigdirs' and run it -- please!

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Some 3000 time services labor to serve

ClockforwardEditor's Note: Daylight Saving Time takes hold this weekend in most of the world. The 2AM changeover can give a 3000 manager a reason to look at how the server manages timekeeping, including the potential for the open source tool ported to the 3000, XNTP. Our Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper is working on an article to address some of the laborious steps needed to utilize it. His research took him to a few experts in networking and open source over the Web, Chris Bartram (our first webmaster, and creator of the DeskLink and NetMail apps) and Brian Edminster (operator of the website.)

Chris: As I recall, ntp services never worked well on the 3000. It won’t work at all as a server for other clients, I believe. And as a client it seemed a waste; my vague memory says it had issues because you couldn’t set the time with the resolution it wanted. It ended up oscillating.
There’s a very simple standalone NTP client, ntpdate, though that you can run from the command line -- that’s what I use on my systems. I simply run it a couple times a day – it pulls the time from whatever NTP server you point it at and sets your local clock. We even shipped a copy with every NetMail tape. Look for ntpdate.sys.threek if you have a NetMail/3000 or DeskLink equipped system available.

Brian: The latest version of XNTP was the 4.1.0 version hosted on Jazz, and ported by Mark Bixby. It includes both ntp client and server functionality. Through the magic of the 'Wayback Machine' there's a link to HP's install instructions and other resources. The bad news is that HP put the actual download link behind a 'freeware agreement' page - and that download link wasn't wasn't saved by the Wayback.  Some community members who 'archived' Jazz that might have that download package.

However, there is an earlier v3.5.90 version from October 2008 hosted on Mark Bixby's site -- and although Mark's took site down after his departure from HP, the 'Wayback Machine' comes to the rescue with a downloadable install file.

Continue reading "Some 3000 time services labor to serve" »

This weekend, it's all about 3000 timing

Time-changeEditor's Note: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2AM local time around most of the world this weekend. A lot of HP 3000s run around the clock to serve companies, so a plan to keep the 3000 on time is essential. The founder of the, HP 3000 open source repository, Brian Edminster, offers a plan, experience and a sample jobstream to help get you through our semi-annual time change.

By Brian Edminster

Here's an important implementation note for anyone that wants to put up a 'time synchronization' client on their HP 3000: Do not use it to adjust for spring and fall time-changes!  Use a job that runs on the appropriate dates/times to do a 'setclock timezone=' command.  I have an example below that is a derivative work from something originally posted by Sam Knight of Jacksonville University, way back in April, 2004 on the 3000-L mailing list.

I've updated the job to be more readable, to account for a 'looping' effect that I found in the fall from running on a fast CPU, and to run at 2AM -- the 'official' time that time-changes apply. I have this job set to be intiated by 'SYSSTART.PUB.SYS' on server bootup, and then automatically reschedule itself each Sunday at 2AM.

Continue reading "This weekend, it's all about 3000 timing" »

Windows Tools from HP 3000 Experts

Google Cloud PrintSpooled printing and scheduling are a pair of features tough to duplicate for migrating companies. A pair of software programs floated into our spotlight today, each offered by a developer with decades of HP 3000 experience -- and now serving Windows enterprise users. In expanding their lineups, these companies are making products that create a more productive experience on this platform where migrating 3000 shops are headed.

From the notable spooling and printer developer Rich Corn of Software Devices comes Cloud Print for Windows. Corn's used his expertise at RAC Consulting, attaching print devices to HP business servers, to help create software that helps Windows systems employ the Google Cloud Print virtual printer service. So long as your printer's host can connect to the Web, Cloud Printing can be accessed from other desktops online.

Cloud Print for Windows then monitors these virtual printers and prints jobs submitted to a virtual printer on the corresponding local PC printer. In addition, Cloud Print for Windows supports printing from your PC to Google Cloud Print virtual printers. All without any need for the Chrome browser.

People expect Windows to be a more affordable platform per desktop, but the costs can add up. Employing cloud services can keep things more manageable in a budget. Cloud Print for Windows costs just $19 a seat.

Another 3000 stalwart is demonstrating its new Windows solution for scheduling today. MB Foster is running a 45-minute Webinar starting at 2 PM Eastern Time to show the extensive feature set of its MBF Scheduler. The Webinar is free, and registration is live on the Web.

Continue reading "Windows Tools from HP 3000 Experts" »

Assisting Off the 3000, En Route to Linux

Europ AssistanceA worldwide travel and healthcare insurer is making the move off their HP 3000 starting this year. While that's not remarkable, the destination is notable. Europ Assistance is starting the work to replace its MPE host with a Linux system, right down to considering a Powerhouse license re-purchase.

Adrian Hudson is part of the IT team at Europ, a firm which sells insurance for travels as well as supplemental healthcare. Since these policies are purchased one-off, as the UK-based firm might say, customers pay for them with credit cards. That's the spark to replace the HP 3000 with Linux, Hudson says.

"As Europ Assistance is involved in the Payment Card Industry, one of the key drivers for the migration away from the 3000 is regulatory compliance," he reported. The PCI regulations have been a challenge for some companies to master using the 3000. Last year Hudson was researching a way to permit the HP 3000 to process payment card information using Secure File Transfer Protocol. SFTP was not entirely supported by HP prior to the Hewlett-Packard lab closing in 2008. Hudson was diligently working on a way to involve the 3000 in these data transfers. The alternative, to use intermediate SFTP support on non-MPE servers, turned out to be the solution.

"We ended up piggy-backing files through a Windows server with SFTP installed," he said, "and then FTPing them to and from the 3000." Now the operations once handled by that 3000 are heading to a Linux server. Hudson is investigating the cost of keeping Powerhouse in place on the application. It's one of the simpler ways to migrate code to an alternative platform.

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Telnet opens 3000s with a key cut long ago

Print-ExclusiveEngineering from the past permits us to take the future for granted. In your community the connections between past and present run strong, ties which are now lashed tight by the links of the Web. Programming from long ago stands a chance of tying tomorrow’s computers with the 3000s put into service on a distant yesterday. This technology lay under-appreciated for years — which makes it a lot like the 3000’s design.
Once the executives and sales wizards and marketing mavens grab their tablets and go into your offices, they’ll want to use their iPads to work with information residing in safety on the HP 3000. This year the conduit for the connection is telnet, a protocol given the pshaw in the '90s when nobody could see a tablet anywhere but Star Trek episodes.
I remember telnet gaining traction in feature lists for connectivity software from WRQ and Minisoft. The access method got strongest praise from Wirt Atmar at AICS Research. His engineers were building their own 3000 terminal emulator, QCTerm, and the NS/VT mysteries were not the primary path for data through that free software. (It hasn't been tested on Windows 7, but the software runs on XP -- which is still running 46 percent of the world's Windows PCs.)

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Timely recovery can be no mean feat

By Birket Foster

MTTRO is not just an acronym. For years people have thrown around the acronym MTBF -- mean time between failures. This is how long before things fail, which is not really what people need to know. Once things have failed the challenge is to get them back online. In your personal life it could be an appliance like a washer or dryer or a furnace or air conditioning unit -- all of these are readily repaired. There are some interconnections that need to be considered, but the people in the business know all about the choices that are available. They can have a new device hooked up in hours.

Do you have a plan for getting things back online if your HP computer system fails? What is the impact on the organization? What does it cost your organization to have the computer system unavailable? What is the plan to get things back on line? You want to know long will it take, and what the costs will be for your organization while you get things back up and running.

MTTRO stands for Mean Time to Recovery of Operation. It deals with how long it would take to have your operations back online. Knowing the best case and worst case recovery times from different kinds of disasters will help put bounds around the how much will it cost your company to be down.

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IBM offers alternate migration database

Db2Migrations probably begin with an application review that shows too much at stake to stay with MPE. It's not the OS of the 3000 that's found wanting, however. Usually there's a decline in support for a subsystem, or a development environment (think 4GLs). The 3000's databases have the same support ecosystem they've had for awhile: Third parties (indies) with database tools and expertise, or one company selling an IMAGE-compatible database for non-3000s. It's good to have the 3000's data structures known and emulated.

But migrations, once they're triggered by M&A or boardroom jitters or exiting 3000 staff, need a database. Here in the first week of March we're marking the one-year anniversary of the Oracle Stink Bomb. That's what the company threw at HP's enterprise customers who use Unix. Oracle won't develop for the HP-UX version of that database any longer. Your database choices in a migration have drifted away from the obvious.

While Oracle thinks that's a great way to turn HP's Unix customers into Sun Unix customers, the last year hasn't delivered the riches of database FUD to Oracle. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd has been explaining away a lack of Sun uptick at recent analyst meetings. Instead of Sun, HP's Unix users who wanted to migrate to a more stable DB environment are choosing IBM. Big Blue, after all, is still selling its iconic DB2 for Itanium servers.

It's worth noting that Speedware's legacy modernization services, and migration team, has been working with IBM customers for quite awhile. AS/400 accounts have been in that company's pipeline. DB2 has got to be familiar to one of the two remaining Platinum Migration Partners. A couple of research houses have whitepapers that report on IBM's success in taking away Oracle accounts. It's an odd mix but might be a potent one, if your migration budget is deep enough: HP's Unix, plus IBM's database.

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