Previous month:
June 2012
Next month:
August 2012

July 2012

How Support (With)holds Key to Emulation

At some HP 3000 sites, the servers are working to deliver IT services to a subset of customers. One site in Virginia which handles healthcare administration is keeping an N-Class server online using Amisys/3000. But the issue which concerns the company isn't so much the tech capability of the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. Licenses with existing vendors worry this prospect.

Cognos/IBM is at the top of the list for this company, even through they dropped Powerhouse support long ago. Powerhouse has been an integral part of the Amisys surround code. Cognos wasn't the friendliest company to negotiate with during the MPE heydays. An emulator license for Powerhouse would have to be arranged with IBM.

Other arrangements would include a license for Amisys itself, which is part of the McKesson Group by now. This is one of the software programs running in Virginia where support is being paid -- Adager is another -- and so there's a better chance of getting that license transferred. A transfer license is what's needed for this market. However, it's a lot harder to start up a transfer discussion after you've terminated support.

There are going to be other kinds of prospects where the Stromasys software has a better chance today. The sites where support is intact, or there's plenty of in-house code with no vendors to negotiate with, will have a smoother path. In a spot like that Virginia IT shop, licenses are linked to vendors which will likely expect some support.

This support renewal raises the price bar for the emulator, of course.

Continue reading "How Support (With)holds Key to Emulation" »

Security patches still floating HP-UX cloud

Hp_enterprise-cloud-servicesMigrating from the HP 3000 can be an act of faith. Once a vendor has closed down a business platform, the alternatives might look less certain to survive -- at least until a manager can survey the security of a replacement host. HP genuinely dimmed the lights on its MPE/iX activity when it stopped creating security patches. Windows XP is still getting these, but Microsoft has said they'll stop patching in 2017.

Apple's starting to join the previous-platform shutdown crew. Its new OS Mountain Lion is blasting across the downloading bandwidth -- the vendor said more than 3 million copies went out in the first four days of release. With every copy of Mountain Lion that's downloaded, or shipped out on new Macs, the older platform of Snow Leopard loses a step in Apple's march. Snow Leopard shipped out in 2009. Some managers are on watch, waiting to see when that leopard will lose its security spots.

HP continues to support two earlier releases of HP-UX with security patches. Two separate breaches were repaired last week. One vulnerability could be exploited remotely to create a Denial of Service (SSRT100878 rev.2). Another patch (SSRT100824 rev.3) addressed vulnerabilities which "could be exploited remotely to execute arbitrary code or elevate privileges." Samba and BIND opened the gates to these hacks. Both have been supported in MPE/iX, but it's been many years since Samaba or BIND had any access to a security patch on the 3000.

The Mac's OS is built out of the girders of such open-sourced, Unix-based tools and software. Now there's a rising current of change flowing through the Apple community around the two latest releases of the OS. Lion and Mountain Lion change so many things that older, more experienced Mac managers find themselves learning new interfaces and administration in a forced march -- all because Apple sees profit in making Macs behave like mobile phones and tablets.

Whatever's been learned about managing a Mac is now being depreciated with each new OS release. That kind of change is only the early stages of what a 3000 manager experienced when HP stopped creating MPE/iX or patching it for security. The Unix customers of Apple (Mac OS managers) and HP have one thing in common: continuous re-learning and patching of their environments. This will stretch an IT pro's skill sets. It can also stretch out a workday into work nights and weekends. Enterprise customers must always hope that their vendor doesn't get too enterprising about the profits from churn. Apple seems to be doubling down on a strategy that churns up security issues: cloud computing.

Continue reading "Security patches still floating HP-UX cloud" »

MM/3000 stalwart serves, stocks 3000 docs

We're still thinking about how to organize and capture the wealth of lively links at This site has been without an administrator for most of a year, and it's still got more than 100 links on it that lead to useful information.

But the links to HP's documentation on the 3000's software and hardware go nowhere. Most of them were hosted on HP servers that have either been retired -- like the 3000 division's Jazz webserver -- or they point at a baffling HP webpage where somewhere or other there's a way to find documentation.

However, there's another web resource that seems to pop up quickly when we do a search for HP manuals like the MPE/iX 7.5 Maintenance Manual. It seems that one of the stalwarts of the HP Manufacturing Management application, Scott Petersen, has been stockpiling 3000 manuals at his site. MM/3000, as it was called through the '90s, sold a lot of new 3000s -- because in choosing a platform it's all about the application, isn't it?

It is, until you make that choice, and then you're facing system administration like keeping an SLT up to date for your 3000. How to create a CSLT is part of that 7.5 manual. Petersen's site has it and much more.

Continue reading "MM/3000 stalwart serves, stocks 3000 docs" »

Eloquence's new fast indexes get explored

The FTS fast indexing power of Eloquence 8.20 has gone into full release this month. Up at MB Foster HQ, training is underway this week on using this enhancement, as well as others, while designing migrated databases.

UDALink-EloquenceThis week's design and programming workshop helps people understand how fast indexes apply to a database, "and how they might do database architecture based on the kinds of retrievals they'd want to perform," said CEO Birket Foster. DBFINDs, DBGETs, and DBINFOs in the Eloquence IMAGE compatibility module have extra commands in 8.20. "If you have migrated and have this new database, we'll help you take advantage of new features" in the Marxmeier product Eloquence.

Inside the new Eloquence IMAGE3k library:

  • DBFIND mode 1 may be used to ensure compatibility with existing applications
  • New TPI DBGET modes obtain the Fast Text Seach results
  • DBGET modes 5 and 6 help you check compatibility with existing applications
  • A TPI DBINFO has enhanced 8xx modes to support FTS
  • DBCONTROL's mode 800 and 801 specify the FTS DBFIND behavior if no records qualify 

The workshop is also covering forward logging and recovery techniques, database auditing, and database server replication. MB Foster's UDALink series of connectivity software allows access to Eloquence (and its new fast features) over HP-UX as well as Linux platforms.

Continue reading "Eloquence's new fast indexes get explored" »

Matches of Mountain Lion and MPE/iX

By Brian Edminster
Applied Technologies

Mountain-lionI follow far too many blogs, in my vain attempt to stay informed on the state of technology (software, hardware, and other). When Apple released its state of the art OS today, I kept on researching. As a byproduct of those attempts, I happened on an article from Information Architects, Mountain Lion’s New File System, and found it quite interesting.

In short, it appears that Apple -- in working to move away from a many-leveled folder hierarchy to 'force' a two-level hierarchy in its file-systems (iOS, and now in OSX) -- is now basically moving towards where MPE was from the beginning.

In MPE's case, it's Account and Group, rather than Application, and folder within Application. But the resemblance is striking.

Continue reading "Matches of Mountain Lion and MPE/iX" »

Make backups, but a CSLT is just as vital

Many homesteading HP 3000 shops are working with limited system administration. If you're reading this blog, that probably doesn't apply to your own 3000 shop. But you can pass on advice about backing up to any 3000 site you know. A backup of applications and databases isn't enough.

The CSLT needs to be fresh and available, too. The Custom System Load Tape tells the 3000 how the configuration is set up for devices attached to the system that you're restoring. (The original SLT that was distributed from HP has a generic configuration. This customized SLT reflects your physical configuration of your specifically-built system.) Also referred to as a boot tape, it contains the system load utilities, diagnostic subsystems, base system files, and other HP system files such as IMAGE, FCOPY and EDITOR.

A CSLT is generated with the system generator (SYSGEN) utility. You can build a CSLT for individual systems, each with a different configuration, after updates. These configurations tell the 3000 what other volumes are available to accept data. You can also put a full backup on the end of a CSLT, but it's better to have that backup on separate tapes. (Separating a backup from the CSLT also speeds up creating a CSLT.) Consultant Paul Edwards advises that managers make a CSLT at least every other time during a backup, plus having two tape drives on each system. "Being paranoid makes for a good system manager," he says. "If you're not paranoid enough, you better have a good resume."

Overlooking the CSLT is so common that even some admin pros have done it from time to time. For one such pro, an A-Class 3000 was recently rebuilt and had its apps consolidated. But the rebuilt system didn't have its CSLT freshened, which was discovered when the boot volume failed. 

We lost LDEV1 in the 'system' volume-set. The apps and databases are fine, but I'd neglected to make a fresh CSLT once the rebuild/configure/setup was complete. Fortunately, all the data volumes are protected with Mirror/iX -- but rebuilding the system volume accounts, network config, administration jobs and so on has been a pain.

An honest mistake like this is not one you need to make yourself. Even if, as another 3000 consultant notes, your shop has gone into Frugal Mode while it makes in-house moves. You have the right to be wrong in Frugal Mode. But you really don't want that right, unless you've got plenty of extra time.

Continue reading "Make backups, but a CSLT is just as vital" »

For sunset OS rides, the market decides

SunsetAlthough Windows systems have been a popular alternative to the HP 3000 for migrators, they do have one thing in common. The most commonplace version of the Microsoft OS is on notice of an end-date. And just like the 3000's, this deadline is one the vendor has kept extending.

Windows XP doesn't run enterprises the way that Windows Server 2004 or 2008 do, but this desktop client OS has had staying power to rival the HP 3000's MPE/iX. Microsoft released the Embedded version of XP at the end of 2001. HP's 7.0 version of MPE/iX was rolled out the same year. Microsoft intended to cut off XP's lifespan in 2011, then in 2014. The latest announcement is that the XP users who have the OS embedded in things like kiosks now have five more years.

XP Embedded: Born December 2001. Support expired, October 2017.

Riding into the sunset is a strategy that makes good sense at some point for every technology. But Microsoft -- which reported its first-ever loss last quarter -- is having a 3000-like experience with XP. In spite of having a good alternative that's even code-compatible in Windows 7, half its customers run an OS that was designed back when HP was still rolling out new 3000s.

Just like Windows XP, MPE/iX won't expire. It's the one fact that a homesteading customer, or a slow migrator, can count upon. What works today is a good bet for tomorrow, unless security issues rise up. Since Microsoft's product is a Windows client OS, XP has some very serious need for security updates. An OS like MPE, with its Priv Mode designs, doesn't have the same security challenges.

Continue reading "For sunset OS rides, the market decides" »

Apache helped 3000s live to serve

In a July of 15 years ago, the HP 3000 was struggling for Web relevance. Since it was built as a general purpose computer, the 3000 and its operating system were expected to deliver any service which a business required. Newer elements of the IT landscape by 1997 included serving up websites, something which Unix and Windows NT competitors were handling nicely.

HP thought it had a solution to a requirement which many customers didn't even acknowledge. The Internet was becoming popular, and serving web pages was a novel means of delivering data. The 3000 had been recently supplied with standards-based email through third parties, most notably 3k Associates. But Web services were still in flux in 1997. The first choice for a third party MPE/iX-ready web server pulled out just before its product could get inserted into 3000 IT.

In the dog days of that summer, I fumed over the initial HP response to Open Market's web exit. "One of the first thoughts this division had about losing its Web server solution amounted to 'we can always let NT do it using the 3000's data.' That idea deserves to fall out from heatstroke, and quickly."

The product segment was so novel that HP had an Internet Product Manager for the 3000 (CSY) division. "We're as disappointed as anyone," Daren Connor said. HP had partnered with a company that decided to drop the product HP had ported to MPE/iX. Open Market left the 3000 with a sour aftertaste to two years of negotiations and engineering. Two years was a long period to fall behind in the Web derby while the Internet bloomed.

HP appears to be as surprised as anyone. CSY's spring promotion directly preceded Open Market's notice to HP that it was dropping the software which HP just placed in customers' hands. While HP is the primary support contact for the product, it relies on Open Market to resolve more complex support issues. CSY also looks to Open Market to engineer enhancements to the product.

There was an open solution waiting for the 3000's Internet dilemma. HP had not pinned its enterprise hopes on web services. Sun was stealing that march, but open source software would arrive to bridge the gap. Apache rode in on the steed of a savvy customer who ported it for free. HP eventually hired Mark Bixby to port the 3000 into a future where it was called the e3000. It just took one more feint at a commercial server that didn't plug into the 3000.

Continue reading "Apache helped 3000s live to serve" »

3000 vendor links, many lost in history

Early this year I started to explore the vitality of links on the website. After four passes through a pop-up list that's larger than a paperback cover, I bring you to the final 15 suggested connections to 3000 vendors. This is a resource that's without an adminstrator for its content, seeking a volunteer or vendor's resource to maintain its links. After more than 100 searches of its biggest list, I have a summary in the wings about this Web resource, launched about 15 years ago.

1997 was a different time for Web interfaces, and so a vast list of vendors appears on a single pop-up click at the site. These final T-Z links run from TAG Business Computing through the Wick Hill Group. There are only three relevant links on that slice of the list by now.

Other reports on the fate of vendors appeared on this blog covering A-G, H-O, and P-S companies. After a recent talk with volunteer Olav Kappert about the project, I figured it was time to wrap up this safari, and sum up. Among this last group, Taurus Software not only remains vibrant and in business, but still sells software for HP 3000s. Its Bridgeware Bundle was launched last summer, a package of hardware and software that moves data between 3000s and other hosts. Both migrators and homesteaders have uses for Bridgeware.

VEsoft still serves over 1,600 HP 3000 sites with its MPEX and Security/3000 and VEAudit/3000 software. VEsoft's never had a robust Web presence, but that hasn't held the company back. "As the vendor of your software we do this unusual thing -- we visit the customer," says founder Vladimir Volokh. The 3000links pointer to VEsoft refers to the phone of Dan Howard, one of the better-known VEsoft distributors.

(To link to a rollicking website which flows from the Volokhs, visit the Volokh Conspiracy: articles and discussions led by Eugene Volokh, his brother Sasha, and a mighty crew of blog contributors. Politics and law rule that roost.)

Continue reading "3000 vendor links, many lost in history" »

Disbursing 3000 Gear to the Next Life

BoydsSome 3000 shops which have made migrations are looking for a new home for older equipment. At the Boyd Coffee Company -- whose motto is "Fuel, not fashion" -- director of IT Lane Rollins has systems which once did good work but might be ready for retirement. Or repurposing.

"I need to get some clutter out of here," he said, "and I'm not sure who is reselling HP 3000 gear these days, or if anyone would be interested in the stuff. We’ve been off of the 3000 for five years now."

His list includes two Series 918s, including a Jamaica storage unit (HASS) and an extra SCSI card. Also on hand at the Coffee Company's shop: DTC controllers, an HP line printer with a LAN card, plus terminals.

If the gear doesn't seem like it could launch a thousand ships, it could well be equipment to keep a 3000 ship afloat. This kind of inventory won't draw much resale value, but some service companies need it for their spare parts depot. There's nothing quite as good as replacing a failed bit of hardware with an identical unit.

Continue reading "Disbursing 3000 Gear to the Next Life" »

Find SSD on SCSI? It might be time for 3000

OCZ's RevoDrive

SCSI remains the primary method to connect disk to HP 3000s. That means that most of the Solid State Disk (SSD) memory-based devices won't serve for MPE/iX storage. But it's not impossible to make the quantum leap from rotational to RAM storage. It might be worth the experimentation, given the upsides. In short, if a manager can find the SCSI, honey, find the time -- to experiment.

Starting at about $250, the devices are not costly anymore. And even in the more-rare SCSI units, 120-480 GB models are available in online stores.

"You would need to find a SCSI SSD," said Larry Kaufman, a systems engineer with BayPointe Technology. "They are out there, but there are not a lot of choices. Here is something to consider: When a SSD fails, the failure is likely to be catastrophic, with total data loss. HDDs can fail in this way too, but often give warning that they are failing, allowing much or all of their data to be recovered."

Kaufman offered a note about the old HP's "silverback" disks used with 3000s. "They would make tons of noise for weeks, sometimes months, before they would die."

That sound of rotation is also the sound of slower operation, of course. Once you go non-rotational, you won't go back, said one consultant. Using SSD tech in a 3000 carries the usual warning that was often quoted in the 1990s and onward: This is a storage unit not tested for MPE/iX. But there's plenty of tests not yet performed for SSDs. Like any advanced technology, SSD has also got some emerging downsides now being discovered in the field.

Continue reading "Find SSD on SCSI? It might be time for 3000" »

Still ample time to study IPv6

UnderstandingIPv6A new guidebook to learn the latest-generation Internet protocol will be a useful tool for 3000 pros, at least any who are expanding their networking skills. And while it's true the HP 3000 won't ever support IPv6, this style of trailing the current net technology has been part of the 3000's experience for decades.

In 1984, for example, IBM's System Network Architecture (SNA) ruled a vast swath of a very diverse computing landscape. Almost three decades ago, 75 percent of corporate-level data processing was performed on an IBM or "plug-compatible" system. And about half of those systems were supporting SNA devices. So there you had it: a networking protocol used by more than a third of the world's corporate computers, and completely unsupported by Hewlett-Packard's business computers.

In a story in the venerable InterACT magazine, Sharon Fisher wrote this dominant and rising technology wasn't for sale, just adoption.

The most important fact to remember about SNA is that is is not a tangible product, but an abstract concept. You cannot buy SNA; it is neither hardware nor software. Instead, it is definitions, rules, protocols and formats that govern the structure of hardware and software.

So HP embraced SNA for the 3000, its only business computer, but late. As usual. Adopting standards early might look good in a tech planning presentation, but in practice can be as useful as messaging between a fridge and a TV. We heard as much from a veteran of standards-based networking in the 3000 community.

Continue reading "Still ample time to study IPv6" »

Use MPE Input Files to Create Output Files

Intrinsics are a wonderful thing to power HP 3000 development and enhancement. There was a time when file information was hard to procure on a 3000. "The high point in MPE software was the JOBINFO intrinsic," said Olav Kappert, an MPE pro who started with the 3000 in 1979.

Fast-forward four decades years later and people still ask about adding features to a system. The Obtaining File Information section of a KSAM manual on MPE/iX holds an answer to what seems like an advanced problem. 

I'm still using our old HP 3000, and I have access to the HP COBOL compiler. We haven't migrated and aren't intending to. My problem is how to use the characteristics of an input file as HPFOPEN parameters to create an output file. I want that output file to be essentially an exact replica of the input file (give or take some of the data). I want to do this without knowing anything about the input file until it is opened by the COBOL program. 

I'm using FFILEINFO and FLABELINFO to capture the characteristics of the input file, after I have opened it. After I get the opens/reads/writes working, I want to be able to alter the capacity of the output file.

Francois Desrochers replies

How about calling FFILEINFO on the input file to retrieve all the attributes you may need? Then apply them to the output file HPFOPEN call.

Donna Hofmeister adds 

You might want to get a copy of the "Using KSAM XL and KSAM 64" manual. Chapters 3 and 4 seem to cover the areas you have questions about. Listfile,5 seems to be a rightly nifty thing.

But rather than beat yourself silly trying to get devise a pure COBOL solution, you might be well advised to augment what you're doing with some CI scripts that you call from your program.

Continue reading "Use MPE Input Files to Create Output Files" »

Robelle opens demos, expands MPE futures

JumperTen years ago this summer, the 3000 community was riding the angry rapids of change. Bedrock technology for mission-critical systems was being pounded by HP's waves of the future: Business servers on Windows and Unix were moving forward in HP's plans. MPE/iX was not.

In a few months' time, the community would gather in LA and face off with HP for the first time since that announcement. During the weeks leading to that annual HP World conference , some vendors were spreading the word that the 3000's days were not being numbered -- not by HP, at least. Robelle issued a press release that established the company's course for the post-HP era of the 3000. CEO and founder Bob Green set the lifespan of 3000 relevance at "a long time."

I started on the HP 3000 before the first system was shipped from HP, and I plan to be there long after the last 3000 is shipped. The 3000 and the people who know and support it will be around for a long time. Robelle along with other committed friends of the HP 3000 like The 3000 Newswire will continue to act as hubs for 3000 information.

While Robelle has remained steadfast, there's more to the company's mission than protecting 3000 investments by homesteaders. This month, demo copies of SuprtoolOpen -- the cross-platform Suprtool which now runs natively on Red Hat Linux -- are available at Robelle for downloading. The company's also extended its MPE futures with successful testing of Suprtool on the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. Development is looking to expand the 3000 lifespan at the same time that it will bridge any migration onto Linux.

Continue reading "Robelle opens demos, expands MPE futures" »

Web console resets, environment rebuilds, dumping form printers lead Hidden Value

I switched from an A400 to an A500 some time back, and I only realized I had not set up the remote web console after the console was down. Where can I configure this? This last time my only access was via VPN, or verbally over the phone. ("What can you see? Okay, so type...") I want to be able fix this myself next time. The console is the built-in one, and not an external box.

Gilles Schipper replies

You can configure your web console from the main console via the GSP interface. Specifically, the command you're looking for is LC (LAN configuration).

This command can be invoked even while the system is up and running by typing ctl-B (control and B together). For more help, at the GSP interface, type HELP, then HELP LC. 

Craig Lalley adds that if you arrive at a password roadblock and need to clear a console back to the default login, "at the physical console, hit the GSP reset in the back of the system, then press P on the keyboard. It will reset the passwords."

I need to rebuild an environment from one HP 3000 system to another. Trouble is, we want to have groups from the same account end up on different user volumes. Is there a way to do this using BULDACCT? 

Keven Miller adds

BULDACCT was made for processing complete accounts. Do BULDACCT  CHC%VSACCT=MEDADV_1. Then edit BULDJOB1 for the other group, changing MEDADV_1 to _2

Continue reading "Web console resets, environment rebuilds, dumping form printers lead Hidden Value" »

IPv6: no MPE/iX support, and no matter, yet

One month ago this week, the latest generation of Internet protocols celebrated a kickoff week. Another one. IPv6 never made it onto the MPE/iX playing field. But some of the sharpest network gurus for HP 3000s say that the new Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard isn't being baked into enterprise network name management. The fact that there's no IPv6 doesn't matter to 3000 managers -- at least not yet.

760px-Ipv6_address_leading_zerosIt's been a long time since IPv6 started its march to relevance. The Internet was built from its roots in the 1980s on the 4.3 billion IP addresses of IPv4, but the IETF estimated that 2011 would be the year when every address would be used up. So this next-generation IP standard was first approved about the time HP was releasing MPE/iX 5.0, in 1998. It's reasonable to think 14 years would be enough time for the world's computing community to embrace a crucial extension of IP addresses. But in the real world, IP addressing is a lot like HP 3000 deployments: What's in place isn't broken for many people, so there's no clamor to replace it.

Jeff Kell is a wizard of networking for the systems at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga that host the 3000-L mailing list. He notes that "the 3000 of course will never do IPv6, short of some major overhaul patch -- and due to the extent of it, that seems impossible." But he adds that enterprise servers, from HP 3000s out to the ubiquitous Linux PCs, aren't making a move to IPv6 in any significant number.

Other than some of the much-publicized "World IPv6 Day" experiments, most of the "server" side of the network remains IPv4. To account for the imbalance, most IPv6 client areas have some sort of gateway, emulation, or tunneling solution to maintain connectivity with IPv4 services.

Continue reading "IPv6: no MPE/iX support, and no matter, yet" »

HP proprietary versus commodity hosts: Unix v. MPE

Analysis is spreading about HP's mission for its last in-house computer environment. Hosting will be moving for HP-UX. This is happening at the same time as hosting is on the move for MPE/iX. One distinction is the hardware platform. One is ready now, the other a good while later. You might guess wrong on which is which.

On the HP-UX, there's much work to be accomplished to get HP's Unix onto the Intel Xeon/x86 chipset. No, the entire OS is not on the move, not like MPE/iX is gliding onto Intel i7 multi-core chips. HP's working to get the best of its Unix running on a hardened Linux. The combination will be served from a customized configuration.

At the ServerWatch website, an article quotes the head of HP Industry Standard Servers, who says Unix now moves forward on x86.

The effort will eventually lead HP to favor x86 and Linux over Itanium and Unix, according to Scott Farrand, vice president of Industry Standard Servers and Software in the Enterprise Group at HP.

"Our go-forward strategy for mission-critical systems is shifting to an x86-based world," Farrand said. "It's not by coincidence that folks have de-committed from Itanium, specifically Oracle."

In the same manner, MPE/iX is also moving to x86. The Stromasys HP 3000 emulator, HPA/3000, is running on industry standard PC hardware. It was not demoed on that kind of system in its most recent appearance. The CAMUS user group saw the emulator perform flawlessly running on a custom-built PC. It's the kind of system we once called a white box. By now you might call it Build To Order, if there was a major vendor's label on the front.

It was convenient to use a BTO or white box PC to show off HPA/3000. But users of this solution won't be trying to save $500 building their own PC configuration when they spec up an HPA/3000 host. They're going to want to go high horsepower -- just the right decision considering the $25,000 price of this solution. The genuine and lasting value here is the software.

Continue reading "HP proprietary versus commodity hosts: Unix v. MPE" »

Quest Software to become a property of Dell

QuestNetBaseQuest Software, makers of HP 3000 software since the late 1980s, has agreed to be purchased by Dell for $2.4 billion, according to company reports. Quest shareholders must vote on an offer to purchase company stock outright at $28 a share. The company was committed to a purchase by Insight Venture Partners at $2 billion. Quest will pay $37 million to back away from that deal.

Quest's CEO Vinny Smith, who owns one third of the company's stock, has agreed to vote in favor of the Dell acquisition. Dell will double the size of its software business by purchasing Quest, which makes the Bridgeware data migration solution being sold to HP 3000 shops both migrating and homesteading.

The history of 3000 software companies purchased by larger partners has had spots both high and low for purchasers and customers of existing products. Quest's got a massive business running in software to help with database management, principally Oracle. The HP 3000 products such as the data-mirroring NetBase (which was once sold as SharePlex by HP) or NFS/iX is a fraction of the revenue Quest generates.

A $2.4 billion acquistion is small compared to the $5 billion IBM paid for Cognos. Speedware sold itself to Activant for $114 million in 2005. Five years later Speedware took itself back from Activant, after the purchasing company didn't fully value the future of the Speedware Ltd. segment of the company. Activant was an ERP company interested in the ERP holdings of Speedware.

The Powerhouse products at Cognos have lost their profile in the much larger IBM software operations. One customer said their license was changed without any notice from IBM. Accuride was also receiving an IBM notice by email every 15 minutes about the need to renew a support license. A day's worth of search was needed to find an IBM staffer to turn off that noise.

Continue reading "Quest Software to become a property of Dell" »

Used MPE licenses may be yours to resell

The European Union Court of Justice has ruled that authors of software can't oppose the resale of used licenses for that software. One member of the 3000 community believes that there's a chance this could open up the exchange of MPE/iX licenses through legitimate sales -- with no HP participation required.

HP still operates a License Transfer operation for shifting MPE/iX installations from one server to another. The fee is a $400 charge. What's sometimes tougher is documenting ownership of a server to HP's satisfaction. Used hardware has been tied to MPE/iX software instances by HP even since a civil lawsuit determined in 1999 that the OS was like a license plate: attached to the iron registered to it until HP certified otherwise.

On July 3 the EU Court of Justice issued a legal interpretation against Oracle in a lawsuit that seeks to block UsedSoft GmbH. UsedSoft markets licenses that it has acquired from users of Oracle's software. The UsedSoft license buyers then download the software directly from the Oracle website. The EU court's directive defines "the legal protection of computer programs." The language below from a court press release seems to show that European courts register only a first-sale right on software. 

The first sale in the EU of a copy of a computer program by the copyright holder or with his consent exhausts the right of distribution of that copy in the EU. A rightholder who has marketed a copy in the territory of a Member State of the EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy. In the present case, Oracle claims that the principle of exhaustion laid down by the directive does not apply to user licences for computer programs downloaded from the internet.

"I wonder if this has any effect on the Stromasys and CHARON licensing program?" asked Tracy Johnson, former OpenMPE director, manager of 3000s for Measurement Specialties, and curator of the EMPIRE 3000 server. "If MPE licenses can be bought and sold, there may be some who will hold onto their licenses for a better deal."

Continue reading "Used MPE licenses may be yours to resell" »

Programming Note: Independence at Hand

US BuntingAs this is the Fourth of July in the United States, we're taking a bit of time away from the news desk to celebrate Independence Day, as we call it. If you think about it, your choice to remain on an HP 3000 -- even if it's on a long journey toward migration -- is a celebration of independence.

As examples of what that means in practice, have a look at the following articles:

On support for 3000s: HP's 3000 support clears away for indies

On MPE licenses, and the need for them in the post-HP era: Customers debate definition of a licensed HP 3000

On how respecting an HPSUSAN supports independent software vendors: 3000's IDs protect independent SW vendors

UK BuntingEmbrace your independence as an HP 3000 partner or customer, whenever that new course suits you. If you're migrating, your company's internal schedule will determine your new platform and when you will move. It's obviously not based on HP's support deadline, which is just as expired as George Washington. This is a holiday we celebrate to mark the country's trip down a new path independent of its founding authority figure, Great Britain. I am told the British celebrate today as "the anniversary of the time we got rid of those pesky colonists."

Which goes to show how anything can be viewed from more than one point of view, so long as you have an independent mind.

A Personal Path into Emulator Exposure?

CHARON-HPA3000-roadmapv2Stromasys, the vendor with an exclusive offer of HP 3000 hardware emulation, crosses into its third quarter of the life of the HPA/3000 software this week. While we work out the details of getting an update on the product, it's important to note that the first software-only version of this solution was scheduled to debut over the next 90 days. (Click on the December roadmap above for details.) Getting a foothold with a new concept of 3000 virtualization might be easier if there was a free means to test it. Stromasys has experience with a personal, entry-sized version of its emulator.

Update below: the commodity profile in the HPA/3000

Stromasys comes to its 3000 mission well-steeped in selling emulation. The company's made its mark on the Digital enterprise space, emulating PDP and Vax systems, and finally the Alpha processor which HP stopped creating. Late last year Stromasys updated a Personal Alpha version of its Digital product, calling it Personal Alpha Plus. The update to Personal Alpha -- which Stromasys says was downloaded 10,000 times -- "has twice the power of Personal Alpha." It runs at about 15 percent of the speed of the full AXP Stromasys emulator.

This isn't a hobbyist solution. It's free, yes, but Personal Alpha Plus can be used for commercial purposes. The software creates a virtual DS10 Alpha processor for running OpenVMS or Tru64 applications. Stromasys also sells optional support contracts for Personal Alpha Plus. As a reference, HP called the 600MHz DS10 "an entry-level workstation for the technical user who needs great performance on a shoestring budget." HP retired the DS10 and now sells the $20,000 rx2600 Integrity hardware instead.

There's no such alternative for 3000 customers from HP, but resellers are providing upgraded 3000s. Those larger servers are a proven solution that have real limits. So far, the embrace of the HPA/3000 emulator for PA-RISC 3000s has ramped up slowly. One customer has checked in who explored the product, but wasn't able to run it with his version of VMware. According to its product manager Paul Taffel, HPA/3000 works with the latest version of ESXi, the thin OS instance from VMware. Virtual machine hosting capability was scheduled for a "Son of Zelus" version of HPA/3000, whose release was estimated for this quarter. The Son will also be a version selling without required hardware (cloud service is expected) and therefore priced below $25,000.

Personal Alpha Plus rides on the wings of more than a decade of emulating hardware for the OpenVMS application environment. It's easier to offer a free version of a product which has proven its for-profit sales success. But perhaps a limited-horsepower, limited-quantity Personal version of 3000 emulation is an offer with some potential for traction. If only 50 copies of a Personal HPA/3000 were available, would our community bootstrap this emulator sooner with some testimony?

Continue reading "A Personal Path into Emulator Exposure?" »

A strike on the cloud lights up cautions

LightningStrikeLate Friday evening, millions of people in North America saw a demo of the worst that can happen to cloud computing users. The streaming film service Netflix went dark, halting in mid-movie. At the same time the social networking photo site Instagram went down. These staples of communication and entertainment stayed down, too. Both were victims of a lightning strike on their host facility, Amazon EC2 in Virginia.

The outage was repaired over a span of several hours, and for the most part there was no loss of commerce. Netflix hasn't contacted customers to offer any compensation; Instagram would have no reason to do so, since it's free. But imagine if your cloud-based manufacturing service took a lightning strike. The disaster recovery scenario is significantly complicated when such a key element is outside IT's control.

Amazon's bandwidth for hire has been discussed as a resource for the forthcoming HPA/3000 emulator product that requires no local host. One lightning bolt won't spoil the track record for outside computing services. The new HP Cloud is also bound to weather an outage like this, sometime. However, taking hosting virtual as well as remote/offshore means reworking disaster recovery concepts. When relying on the cloud to run manufacturing, a rapid cutover capability to another provider could save millions of dollars in lost operations.

It could also save a manager's job. On Infoworld's website one of the most popular stories from June was "Adopt the cloud, kill your IT career." The point is not that cloud computing is less stable. Rather, "It's irresponsible to think that just because you push a problem outside your office, it ceases to be your problem." Since the start of 2012 Kenandy Inc. has been offering a replacement for HP 3000 MANMAN software, all based in the cloud. Its high-level answer about a cloud outage problem has been an interesting part of this kind of transition: We know redundancy. Regardless, experienced an outage Thursday, less than 48 hours before the Amazon lightning strike. A little under five hours of downtime ensued.

Continue reading "A strike on the cloud lights up cautions" »