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April 2012

3000's use in 2028: bug, or feature?

The CALENDAR intrinsic that blocks HP 3000 use in 2028 has been described as a bug. On the first day of that year, dates will not be represented accurately. Some in your community consider that New Year's Day, less than 16 years from now, as the 3000's final barrier. But it depends on how you look at it -- as a veteran, or a voyager.

VladimirNov2010A voyager sees CALENDAR as a deadline for departure. This is a part of MPE that was designed in the 1970s, a period when HP had just scrapped a 32-bit release of the 3000's first OS. And just like the Y2K date design, HP engineers never figured their server's OS had any shot of working by the 21st Century -- let alone 2027. But VEsoft's Vladimir Volokh says, "It's difficult to predict anything, especially the future." An IT pro who's planning to depart the 3000 believes CALENDAR is a bug, but that's not how Vladimir sees it.

"This is not a bug, really," he said. "It's a limitation. The end of 2027 date was as far away as infinity when MPE was created." This is a man who defines the term veteran, the kind of professionals who had to work inside 4K memory spaces to build 3000 programs. Limited and expensive resources like memory and disc were supposed to be extended with newer computers. "Every analyst told us a computer would live five years, at most," Vladimir said.

But as a veteran, you've now come to see the day when MPE's lifespan is reaching eight times that prediction. The veteran who chooses to see CALENDAR as a limitation can refer to HP's own lab response. Engineers during the '90s built HPCALENDAR to start extending the 3000's date limits.

Continue reading "3000's use in 2028: bug, or feature?" »

3000 system census surprises in UK

CensusAt a recent 3000 webinar among CAMUS user group members, the Talk Soup Q&A brushed across the 2011 HP3000 Reunion. While the talk examined activity of 2012, one attendee on the conference call could be heard saying, "Not another reunion!" It's a tiresome but expected response to the scope of the 3000 population.

On one side stand the users and managers who employ an HP 3000 in everyday production. They're grateful for any relevant information to keep 3000s running well and updated as much as possible. These community members don't often ask how many systems are still running. For some, another Reunion would be a chance to attend an event they couldn't enjoy because of a 2011 conflict.

Other HP 3000 managers want to view the community as a seriously shrunken village. They've made the choice to migrate, or they can't find work any longer that taps their MPE and 3000 skills. Perhaps they do business in the community and haven't had new revenue in a long while. Other opportunities call, so they're eager to reinforce their choice to move away.

However, we sometimes encounter census trail-posts that lead away from the "too small to be relevant" viewpoints. In the UK one prominent community member had a trail blaze that opened their eyes about who might still remain in the homesteading populace.

Continue reading "3000 system census surprises in UK" »

IBM's experiment begat 3000's first SQL stab

A reader asked, after enjoying our summary of the 3000's 1984 springtime, whether the computer's Allbase database really arrived off another's vendor's lab shelf. The database never caught on, although HP sold it right up to the final month of 2009 you could order MPE software from HP. Some of the reason that SQL indexing instead took root via IMAGE might be the pedigree of Allbase. IBM built its bones in the same year that the 3000 became a computer that could be used -- instead of one to be returned and rebuilt.

Allbase started its life as RSS, a derivative of IBM's experimental System R. The System R experiment was launched in IBM's San Jose Research Lab the same year as the 3000's successful general release, 1974. System R begat SQL, influenced by E.F. Codd's 1970 ACM paper on relational models. (Click on the System R summary below for details.)

System R reportSystem R began its life as a database system built as a research project. "System R was a seminal project," says the article on Wikipedia. "It was a precursor of SQL. It was also the first system to demonstrate that a relational database management system could provide good transaction processing performance. Design decisions in System R, as well as some fundamental algorithm choices (such as the dynamic programming algorithm used in query optimization), influenced many later relational systems."

Allbase got its chance on the 3000's iron because another internal project was hitting the skids inside HP's software labs. The HPIMAGE project, the first relational database for MPE, was being built to run on the 3000's new RISC hardware as part of the Spectrum project announced in '84. Over at Allegro, Stan Sieler says that co-founder Steve Cooper "recalls HPIMAGE being an unreleased Pascal-based, not-quite-compatible verison of IMAGE for MPE XL ... one that was unreleased because it wasn't compatible enough."

Continue reading "IBM's experiment begat 3000's first SQL stab" »

Continuing support key to homesteading

In a webinar last week the makers of the HPA/3000 Charon virtualizing engine (read: emulator) took questions from attendees about licensing. Not the license of MPE/iX (already in place from HP) or licensing their product with customers (something they'd love to do once a customer commits. Soon, we were told.)

The licensing issue in play is how to get a software vendor to embrace use of their product on HPA/3000. For some companies this is an automatic. They generally don't charge for upgrades and haven't created anything that needs special handling inside MPE/iX. Terry Floyd of the Support Group sells software that his company has crafted. His customer, Ed Stein of Magicaire, is on the short list for early adoption of HPA/3000.

"I don’t write any tricky stuff," Floyd said. "We don’t have anything that needs testing. If Ed could get a box with Charon running, our test would be a full month-end close (dozens of jobs) and an MRP run. I think he’ll do a very thorough job – that’s his nature."

Some vendors, especially app suppliers, might have a different approach. The key to getting software from HP iron onto the emulator may well be keeping up support. 3000 software support contracts can be left behind while trimming budgets. This can present a problem that can be fixed by restarting support -- which is a good idea anyway, if the 3000 is mission-critical.

Continue reading "Continuing support key to homesteading" »

Writing Down a Life with the HP 3000

I'm celebrating my birthday today, marking how many of my 55 years have included the HP 3000. More than half my life has been devoted to telling stories about this server, but it's a period only two thirds the size of the computer's lifespan. I'm lucky to be living in the 3000's era, and I use the present tense of "to live" to indicate a life with a future.

SavethePoppies28 years ago today I was polishing up a feature story about saving the red poppies in Georgetown, Texas for the Williamson County Sun. It was a spirited plea to extend the life of something beautiful. I covered the schools, the festivals, the joyous idle time of life in a small town of 4,500 in 1984. It was work from the first half of my life that prepared me for the next half. You might be feeling the same way, like Craig Proctor bringing his programmer-analyst experience to the next phase of his career, beyond the HP 3000.

In April of 1984 your community was awaiting the future eagerly after a reset. The year's Interex conference had just wrapped up a few weeks earlier, a meeting where HP announced that it was scapping the Vision project to modernize the HP 3000 -- a computer just 10 years old at the time. Vision was HP's plan to turn a 16-bit environment into the 32-bit richness already on offer from Digital and IBM. HP was supposed to deliver a new IMAGE database as part of the program, something based on the ascent of SQL. In a few years HP  brought SQL into the 3000 community with Allbase, a product purchased from a third party. Allbase stuck with customers like crushed poppy leaves in the wind.

HP's work during 1984 started the march to RISC computing, the architecture that lives on beyond the iron in the HPA/3000 emulator from Stromasys. Everything we do in life prepares us in some way for what follows, if we connect the dots. I'm about to start a project to help celebrate the dots of the 3000's life. A biography of the HP 3000 is on my menu for this fall, the 40th anniversary of HP's 3000 rollout. I want your stories to spark the 3000's history, so we can see where our lives are leading us.

Continue reading "Writing Down a Life with the HP 3000" »

Federal program helps 3000 IT pro re-train

ExcellentMachineGroupHP 3000 IT pros have a challenge to overcome in their careers: how to add modern skills to the classic tooset they learned managing 3000s. Those between jobs must handle the costs to train, too. Craig Proctor has been spending time to learn the likes of C#, Java and Visual Studio. After a year of study, he hasn't been spending his own money.

"I took a dozen different classes," Proctor said. "The Trade Act paid for it all. It's possible to take one class at TLG Learning, or work with them to design a series of classes."

ProctorProctor worked with a 3000 for more than 20 years at Boeing, as a Configuration Management Analyst and Business Systems Programmer Analyst. He left Boeing in 2010 and began a period he calls Updating IT Skills in his resume at LinkedIn. TLG, based in Seattle, gave him training that he will blend with the business analysis that's so common in 3000 careers. He understands that by drawing on his recent education he'd accept at an entry level IT position. "You get the merger of an experienced analyst, using new tools," he said of his proposal to any new employer."

Last year an extension of the Trade Act was signed into US law by President Obama in one of the few bills that escaped the partisan logjam. A federal website describes it as a way for foreign-trade-affected workers to "obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become re-employed." $975 billion in federal funds have been sent to states like Proctor's in Washington, adminstered by each state. Furloughed workers file a petition for training, job search and relocation allowances. These pros have an average age of 46, which is the younger side of the HP 3000 workforce.

Continue reading "Federal program helps 3000 IT pro re-train" »

A 3000's Efficiency vs. Unix's Soft Bedrock

FlintstonesWhile the HP 3000 was still a going concern at HP (meaning HP concerned itself with the 3000 going away) customers were replacing it with HP-UX servers. The question came up often: how much Unix you'd need to replace MPE. HP's lab engineer Kevin Cooper even wrote a paper about it, presented at user conferences. The simple answer to the question was, "twice as many, if you're not using Oracle." The Oracle users had to buy even more hardware.

That multiplier emerged out of HP-aided tests at some big customers. Cooper says that "IMAGE was highly optimized for the way 3000 applications used it, and it consumed a lot fewer CPU cycles per transaction compared to relational DBs -- on the order of a 1:2 ratio. And this just happens to be where a lot of applications burn a big percentage of their CPU cycles."

MPE/iX managed memory well, especially in the caching of database writes combined with the IMAGE Transaction Manager. The migrated apps which HP studied tended to need about four times the memory on their new platforms, which meant a lot more memory management overhead.

This 3000 advantage emerged because MPE has a database in IMAGE and a programming model that had to perform acceptably on a 2 MHz system with just 1MB of memory. Although the OS bloated up over 30-plus years of redesigns, MPE runs well under 200 times as much CPU power and 8,000 times as much memory. Oracle, well, it's got a lot softer bedrock for app software. It's going to need more system resource to do the same thing.

Continue reading "A 3000's Efficiency vs. Unix's Soft Bedrock" »

What Made the 3000 Great?

IMAGEmanualWhile HP 3000 hardware approaches emulation, and IT managers look at replacement software environments, it's worthwhile to study what made this server successful in a very competitive marketplace. Digital and IBM grappled with HP for business in the 1980s, and the 3000 won customers. It was simplicity and stunning costs which led to the efficiency of MPE, the 3000, and most importantly, IMAGE.

This week I spoke to a developer and software provider who put it succinctly. They said that more than ever today, they're convinced that the best part of the HP 3000 experience which the community created together was IMAGE. The database that was a common element in the community was good enough to make everybody better. "People with moderate skills could appear better than they were using IMAGE," the developer said.

It also helped the 3000's reputation that IMAGE was in use everywhere, so the add-ons were plentiful and the knowledge base was rich. The 3000 didn't labor under the differing camps of Oracle, SQL Server, Postgres and DB2, for example. If you wanted to hire a good database administrator or developer, IMAGE was -- and remains -- the common language of data in the community.

So how does the power of IMAGE make the transition to other platforms? One obvious way is through the IMAGE-like Eloquence, written and tested and working on Windows, Unix and Linux. But if you're not adapting an IMAGE schema for the new migration target, you're more likely to be following an app provider's replacement. For the lucky customers, that means running a Linux version of the app that was written to employ the IMAGE magic. Those customers have a vendor who knows the standard set by IMAGE. The less fortunate migrators are looking for a replacement app with database access as elegant and efficient.

How important that efficiency has become, here in the era of blade servers and cloud computing, is debatable.

Continue reading "What Made the 3000 Great?" »

Emulation advocate could smooth licenses

At yesterday's demonstration of the current HPA/3000 virtualization engine -- you'd know it as The Emulator -- tech success was in abundance. Everything that the product manager Paul Taffel showed off during the spring CAMUS User Group meeting worked as expected. One hour of demo without a single crash. Glance, third party database tools, even something as esoteric as the OCTCOMP object code translator that HP built, the one that ensures that Classic 3000 programs will run on the PA-RISC systems of the modern era.

That last item was no slower than it behaves under HP's 3000 iron. Taffel was showing off the N-Class version of HPA/3000, and he was doing the demo on a $1,300 PC using a paltry 4GB of RAM within 16GB on a Linux PC.

My test Linux system has 16 GB of memory (although we only recommend or need 8 GB for the A400 emulator).  I was running our N4000-100-750 emulator, with 2 GB of memory available to the virtual HP 3000, and I mentioned that I was actually only using about 4 GB of memory at the time (including Linux overhead). I'm not sure that increasing the memory allocated to the virtual HP 3000 would have resulted in any noticeable speed-up, at least during the relatively low load tests that I was performing.

The marvel of the HPA/3000 design is that it has no measurable ceiling for top performance. Intel will keep improving its chip speeds. That puts more horsepower at the command of this engine.

Licensing advocacy might speed up sales. Some vendors are going to want to test for the market's only 3000 emulator and need to recover the lab costs. Others see a need for more real-world tests. HPA/3000 isn't a software-software interaction, however. Taffel says there's no MPE/iX emulation going on in HPA/3000. Every feature of the 3000's OS operates the same, right down to intrinsics. Yes, even the end-of-2027 date bug exists in the emulated solution.

Terry Floyd suggested that an organization like the storied SIGSOFTVEND could assist in getting 3000 apps and essential tools certified. Taffel called the business that vendors could protect via emulator customers "like money for nothing. It's giving these vendors another few years of software support business."

That's true, unless few members of a vendor's supported customer base have mentioned the emulator. These vendors need to be convinced, by some advocate, that it's good business to include HPA/3000 sites on their approved list. Without any evidence they're going to lose money if they don't do HPA/3000 tests, vendors could play the short game and aim tech resources elsewhere. A 3000 software vendor organization is a good idea anyway, but the HPA/3000 gives it a real business focus. SIGSOFTVEND did its work with no overhead to speak of -- and that group was tracing the impact of HP's changes to MPE/iX. VEsoft's founder knows embracing HPA/3000 is simpler.

Continue reading "Emulation advocate could smooth licenses" »

Entry N-Class 3000 demoed on $1300 iron

Stromasys is careful to tell its prospects for the HPA/3000 software that the emulator will be installed on higher-class PC hardware. But for this morning's demo of the product for the CAMUS user group, the product manager Paul Taffel used a $1,300 desktop system. The price included a solid state disk (SSD) drive.

The costs of 3000 hardware aren't a big factor in homesteading for some customers. One manager we interviewed last week cited the price of 3000 disk devices, however, as a reason to follow QSS onto Linux in a migration of their app. Would that company plan to remain on a 3000 if they could employ rock-bottom components and peripherals?

Put it this way: That's one less reason to need to plan for a different environment. It's a serious enough move off homesteading that some customers are taking two or more years to migrate. The product that Stomasys calls a virtualization engine will be eliminating the need to find HP's 9GB drives and shrink wrap them as spares. During the demo, Taffel accessed a 9 GB file -- yes, a file -- that stands in for the 3000's drive. This instance of the 3000 had an MPE/iX 7.5 installation.

Using an SSD to host LDEV 1, while running MPE applications and even HP's diagonostics on $1,300 of iron, should provide a hard reset of what a 3000 will be in the years to come. It's even possible to run a 3000 without so much as a power cord for awhile. The HPA/3000 will run on a laptop.

Migration racks up list of emulated tasks

Some HP 3000s which remain in service are using many MPE nuances to get their jobs accomplished. Each of these tasks needs to be emulated in a migration away from the server. Even as companies embark on migrations to reduce risks, the list of tasks that they hope to replicate from their in-house apps can be surprising.

Such is the case at MM Fab, a fabric manufacturer in LA's South Bay Area. The 3000 shop is now taking its first year of steps off the system, developed and managed by Dave Powell. He shared a list of the things that an emulator must do if it were to succeed at replacing HP's 3000 hardware at his shop. The list also serves as a extensive catalog of the capabilites required of any new operating environment.

"We are thinking about migrating," Powell shared, months before the decision was made. "Which means we have to think about the choice between buying a package vs some form of emulation. Which means I could use some assurance that the [3000 hardware] emulation tools out there would actually work for us."

I can't afford to take this for granted because our system uses some rare features and does unusual things. Lots of them. Example: we do lots of tricky escape-code screen handling (mostly for point-and-shoot, drill down inquiries) that breaks some terminal emulators. Reflection 10.0 works, as does Minisoft WS92 v5.4 and actual terminals from 262x on, but last I checked, Minisoft Secure92 fails big-time. Not trying to make Minisoft look bad, but I need to make the point that software that works elsewhere may not work for us.

"We never cared about portabililty," Powell said, "because we never had any intention of moving to any other platform." From such situations are customers made for the Stromasys virtualization engine. If you're uncertain of whether you're using any MPE nuances in your application, it's a good strategy to get an evaluation of what's in production use today. Even if you're not migrating.

Continue reading "Migration racks up list of emulated tasks" »

HP's 3000 managers, generally, find futures beyond the designs of Hewlett-Packard

Prather cease to beI had an afternoon this week that felt like a ride in a time machine. I was turning the pages of a glossy user group magazine, devoted to HP server products. The HP 3000 was even mentioned in its opening pages. And there on an introductory page, right after an HP print ad, was an HP general manager who was bidding his customers farewell, moving out of a division.

But I only had to blink to notice the differences. The magazine was The Connection, 36 pages plus its covers devoted to the world of NonStop servers, the ones you might know as Tandems. The print ad was not devoted to HP iron, but to time software for the NonStop's OS. And that general manager, you may have guessed, was Winston Prather, saying farewell to another of his server customer bases.

Six men have been general managers of HP's 3000 business since the middle 1980s, but Prather is the only one who's remained at HP. Some of the rest have retired to private practices (Rich Sevcik, now an ardent evangelist in the classic sense of that word; Harry Sterling, enjoying a life in real estate) or have simply left HP for the next chapter of their business lives. Dave Wilde, the last fellow to hold the job, even was welcomed at last fall's HP 3000 Reunion. That was a conference which another of the ex-GMs expressed an interest in and best wishes toward: Glenn Osaka left HP before Prather even took his job, and is now working at Juniper Networks.

Networks hold the next opportunity for Prather, an executive best known for the "it was my decision" to end the 3000's futures at HP. This time he's left the NonStop group in the hands of an engineer who's tackling his first GM job at HP. That's the exact position Prather assumed in 1999 -- before he and others at the vendor gave your storied server the paddling it never deserved.

Continue reading "HP's 3000 managers, generally, find futures beyond the designs of Hewlett-Packard" »

Licenses crank engines of 3000 virtualization

EngineIn a few days Stromasys will update the MANMAN community about its virtualization product that mimics 3000s using Intel hardware. Instead of calling it an emulator, we'll try to stay current and call this software what Stromasys calls it: a virtualization engine. We'll know more about the tech details and the current sales impact next week.

But in the meantime the applications which run on that 3000 iron need licensing. Either they need support fees paid, or in some cases the app itself requires a license fee. Sometimes unexpectly, a fee like this on a homestead 3000 can catapault into an unprecedented tier.

That's what happened to Sako Badalian at Rockwell Collins. The manufacturer of smart communications and aviation electronics in jet fighters uses a 3000 to run MANMAN, software that's now owned by Infor. Badalian reached out to ask if anybody else who uses MANMAN saw a 240 percent increase in the annual fees paid to Infor. That's the bill that Rockwell Collins received from the fifth company to own MANMAN, software whose ownership swaps date back to the 1980s. (CA, Interbiz, SSA Global and Infor have bought the software's customers and the code over that period.)

You would think that after a decade or more of no enhancements to an app, its fees wouldn't rise. But you'd be wrong, apparently, and this practice has become the one of the cranks that turns a 3000 virtualization engine.

Continue reading "Licenses crank engines of 3000 virtualization" »

Changing IP Addresses for HP 3000s

I need to change the IP address of our HP 3000 in the near future, and it's been over 10 years since I've done anything like this. Here's what I think needs to be done:

Open Config
Guided Config
Put in the network interface, (LAN1), then press Config Network
Enter the new IP address
Save Data

Tracy Johnson replies:

I would go with Unguided Config. Guided may change things (besides the IP address) to defaults that may have modified over the last 10 years.

Craig Lalley adds:

Depending on the old IP address and the new IP address, you may want to also change the subnet, and the gateway. The gateway can be accessed by hitting F4 for Internet. The gateway is found at the path NETXPORT.NI.LAN.INTERNET

If you are making the change because of a new switch/router, make sure the network guys configure the port for the HP 3000 correctly. In other words, if you have a 100MB card, make sure it is set to 100MB/full duplex and do the same on the HP 3000, and turn off auto negotiate.

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Manufacturers pull HP off support lines

CAMUS director Michael Anderson, an IT consultant in the Bay Area and a leader of that MRP/ERP users group, was an IT projects manager and applications manager at manufacturers Tencor and ThermaWave, both using HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard is off the radar at most of these manufacturing sites.

“As far as HP support for the HP 3000, I dropped mine a couple months after they announced the end-of-life,” Anderson said of the period in 2002 where he became Enterprise Wide Applications Manager at ThermaWave. “What are you spending money for at that point?  Long term there was not going to be any meaningful development for MANMAN, so there would also be no demand from the application for new features in MPE or IMAGE.  My employer was going through tough times and really needed the $58,000 in savings.

“As long as the old hardware continued to work and you had a good boot tape, what could HP provide that third parties didn’t already provide better for less?  The damage is done and most of the HP support customers are gone. Maybe if they had announced there would be some support in the afterlife there would be more users holding on.”

User groups, which have some of the most seasoned managers in the community, offer a better application and system resource. “On the other hand, for the companies that still use MANMAN on HP 3000s, CAMUS is still here to provide a supportive environment and forum for knowledge exchange,” Anderson said. “But it’s getting pretty quiet.”

While HP’s not making much noise on these soft feints into a market that it’s abandoned, there’s no doubting the attempts will continue, however unsuccessful. MB Foster’s Birket Foster predicted back in 2009 that HP would become a non-entity in the support field by now.

Continue reading "Manufacturers pull HP off support lines" »

CAMUS webinar includes emulator update

CharonFrontShotThe CAMUS ERP/MRP users group is hosting an online meeting in about a week, on April 17 starting at 11:30 EDT. CAMUS board member Michael Anderson is taking registrations for that Tuesday's call-in and web briefing, one which includes an update from the makers of the Charon HPA/3000 emulator.

Stromasys has added an HP 3000 business manager, Paul Taffel, who will brief attendees on this HP 3000 emulator. Taffel's got airtime on the docket through 1 PM. A demonstration is promised. The meeting is open to anyone who registers with Anderson, by sending him an email. He'll reply with login and call-in details.

In the hour following the Stromasys briefing, users who are managing VMS sites will share information in a Talk Soup about the track record of the Charon technology in the DEC world. The first ERP-MRP production work for the emulator took place in the Alpha and VAX community. Some CAMUS members have already shared high praise for the software's ability to mimic HP hardware (on VMS systems) using Intel PC systems. What's changed since those Charon versions is the hosting environment. It's now Linux instead of Windows.

Anderson says this spring's premiere of the HPA/3000 offer may not fit the users of older, smaller 3000s. The first release of HPA/3000 is only matching A-Class 400MhZ horsepower. Stromasys has proven lab resources to boost that. The rollout schedule promises an N-Class-powered, multiple processor version by sometime after July 1, but sold at a price above $50,000.

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Sector7 clarifies: We're not a part of IBM

After our report on Sector7's involvement in the retirement of HP's Unix servers, we stand corrected, or least clarified. Even though one part of the company was sold to IBM to do this work, Sector7 remains an independent firm with the skills to do other kinds of migrations. Including some HP 3000s, according to the company's president Jon Power.

"Sector7 was never acquired by IBM," he said. "In addition to doing their migrations as their Migration Factory -- we did their server consolidation projects, which, are just hundreds of less-complex migrations. IBM acquired the server consolidation business, not the HP 3000 or OpenVMS migration business."

Power adds that IBM Global Services unit does try to do HP 3000 and OpenVMS migrations, "but they just aren't very good at them. They do subcontract some of the more complex ones to us. IBM acquired part of our large scale server consolidation business back in 2003. We still retain many HP 3000 experts."

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Migrating Data for Extended Homesteading

Update: Added advice from Brian Edminster on using Jeff Vance's free UDC, UDCVOL.

The redoubtable 3000-L mailing list still boasts more than 600 readers, and more than 100 of them answer questions about 3000 operations. The discussion helps homesteaders, or those who are making moves to extend the life of 3000s.

Or replace them with other 3000s. A reseller recently asked for help on data migration of the homestead variety. He got instructions useful for anyone populating a fresh disc with production data.

I'm using MPE/iX 6.5 on a 9x7 3000, and trying to move data from a system volume set to a private volume set. I made a full backup and have created a private volume set, but I'm having problems restoring my data to the private volume set.

Craig Lalley of EchoTech replied:

You need to build the accounts and groups on the private volume before the restore. On the old system, run BULDACCT like this


Purge the old accounts, then STREAM BULDJOB1. This will build the "buckets," the accounts/groups on the private volume. Then do the restore.

Continue reading "Migrating Data for Extended Homesteading" »

HP's 3000 support clears away for indies

Even though HP this week announced its Insight Online enhancement for enterprise support, the changes won't be of help to 3000 owners. The remote management technology, designed to improve response times, is another example of new support products HP won't deliver to the MPE sites it's retained over the eight years since the server's sales ended.

After a full year of absence from the HP 3000 community, the support arm of Hewlett-Packard has been disappearing from customer choices for 3000 maintenance. Hardware is the only public offer that the company pushes on its old clients, according to reports from the field. But HP hasn’t retracted its reach entirely for the insurance-only support dollars backed by a declining set of resources.

“Most people have aligned themselves with an independent provider at this point,” said Pivital Solutions president Steve Suraci. His shop that’s completely devoted to supporting MPE/iX and HP 3000 systems runs across straggler accounts when customers say they’re in the last 18 months of a migration and therefore stick with HP. But it’s a rare encounter by now, at least in public.

“It’s not as much as it had been,” said Pivital Solutions president Steve Suraci. “In this new year I had two customers come to me that they never received a message from HP on support renewal — for the first time ever. In other cases I’ve continued to see HP.”

The departure of HP support options still comes as news to a few customers. Last month a manager running 3000s at fuel-pump manufacturer Gilbarco queried the 3000 newsgroup for an update. "Our HP 3000 maintenance contract is up for renewal on June 30th, but HP have told us that they will not be renewing the contract," he said. "Is this commonplace across the globe?"

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Leaving legacy: IBM runs Migration Factory

WildebeastmigrationEchoes of the migration bell rung by HP in 2001 are rattling some HP Unix customers loose. During a week when HP's business was considered a carcass by a MarketWatch analyst, news bubbled up on a website in the IBM world about a former 3000-migrating company that's now eliminating HP-UX customers. In a four-month period, hundreds of sites have been converted away from HP's enterprise-grade alternative to the 3000.

That Austin-based consultancy Sector7 has been an expertise resource for migrations since early in the 3000's Transition Era, midway through the previous decade. Some MPE experts have even consulted through Sector7. But even after [some part of] it was acquired by IBM, the company has been able to retain its business motif despite selling its consolidation business to IBM's Global Services group. That portion migrates IBM competitors' systems, whether just a database swap to DB2 or a shift onto IBM's iron in the Power Series. In this world, Unix is considered a legacy carcass.

According to a report at the blog System iNetwork, IBM achieved almost 200 competitive takeouts in the last quarter of 2011 off the HP Unix customer rolls. Each one of these takeouts averages about $1 million per displacement in revenues (although not for Sector7, as we're corrected below by Sector7's Jon Power). That's a yearly total of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars off the backs of HP's Unix, if the analysis from Pund-IT's analyst Charles King is to be believed. From the System i website:

Poaching customers when a competitor is weak is nothing new, and both HP and Oracle have programs to help customers migrate to its own solutions. Still, "I don’t know that any program has worked to the degree that IBM’s has," King says. "IBM is seeing accelerating numbers of migrations both from HP and Oracle. IBM basically has the right tools, and they have a very solid strategy in place to take advantage of uncertainty and concern [in the Unix-focused market]."

IBM and HP have been swiping each others' customers for years, dating back to the days when IBM tried to target HP 3000 shops with the AS/400-Series i systems. There were a few displacements announced around 3000 migrations, but that business didn't show much but exceptions that proved the rule of Windows. However, IBM has had some success selling the System i -- a cousin to the HP 3000 in its integrated design. Some Unix sites have switched to IBM's more proprietary and specialized solution.

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OpenMPE still open for some downloading

April is the time of year when a new OpenMPE board of directors was being seated, at least from 2002 to 2009. The count of volunteers listed as board members stands at three as of today. Birket Foster, Tony Tibbenham and Alan Tibbetts make up the tightest group in the 10 years that OpenMPE has been at work. This month marks the end of the second year of stasis for a volunteer group that's still serving up bits which are relevant to homesteading HP 3000 users.

The chairman Foster told us that there's still work to do on licenses for any software which will operate under the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. "We ran that emulator project in conjunction with HP," he said in February. Hewlett-Packard came up with the only paid-license project for an enterprise OS running on an emulator, sparked by board direction from OpenMPE. With that HPA/3000 now being shown off in sales calls this spring, it's easy to forget the whole concept wouldn't have existed without an OS license for an emulator.

There's still an Invent3K public access development server online, thanks to the volunteer efforts of the group, as well as supporters like the Support Group Inc. There are proceedings available on that server which contain papers that could help train a replacement generation of managers at homestead sites.

On more everyday matters, the OpenMPE website still hosts some code and scripts useful to a 3000 manager. Scripts by the ever-helpful ex-CSY guru Jeff Vance, Donna Hoffmeister, and others are online today. It's part of the Jazz project on OpenMPE, but the open source dreams of the group are being realized in another web outpost.

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3000 community awaits business simulation

Owners and suppliers of HP 3000 systems were counting down today to the rollout of the Hewlett-Packard Business Simulator, the first application designed to turn server clocks back to pre-Y2K settings to normalize enterprise operations. The software-hardware combination, scheduled to roll out in 2007, makes its debut this year, triggered when the vendor's Legacy Calendars Division corrected a five-year timing error in embedded HP 3000 history chips.

CEO Meg Whitman, corrected last month on the age of the company by shareholders old enough to know better, said her executive staff deployed the Day Runner app technology in WebOS to learn that the long-awaited simulator was just as overdue as the 70th anniversary of the company.

"We never meant to fall this far behind on the HP-BS app," Whitman said in a brief statement at the end of March. "We were timing it to coincide with our 70th birthday, which turns out to have been a few years ago." Whitman said the New-News architecture of the chips was thrown off by the four-year delay in retiring HP's 3000 operations, which were scheduled to expire just before HP's actual 70th anniversary. Division R&D manager Oltston Rather said that when the 3000 ops continued to operate, the BS app remained in streaming mode.

The simulator is designed to recreate business opportunities that existed when Hewlett-Packard was selling four vendor-designed enterprise environments, including MPE/iX. The Y2K date was chosen to match the last period when HP stock was trading high enough to split, while new 3000 sales still boosted the company's top as well as bottom lines.

Rather said that instead of installing the BS app in datacenters, customers will recreate the Y2K conditions in the HP Cloud. A new HP Cloud Discovery Workshop demystifies and simplifies this complex world by using human-sized displays which lay out strategies to utilize this new computing environment.

"It's a pie in the sky condition we're generating," Rather said. "Customers would prefer to work in a time when our business and financial success was more in line with our innovative R&D. As profit-sharing employees, so would we."