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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.

Robelle hasn't been shy about telling the community the 3000's life is as long as a customer needs. It was among the first companies anywhere to say they'd be supporting 3000 shops beyond 2015. Those messages started appearing in Robelle's ads and website far back in the previous decade. It might have seemed like bravado at the time.

Needing migration support for Suprtool beyond HP's Unix -- that might have seemed fruitless, too. In the summer of 2002 the proprietary operating systems ruled the enterprise roost: Windows from Microsoft, HP-UX from Hewlett-Packard, AIX from IBM, Solaris from Sun. Linux was an entertaining project of an OS, rather than an enterprise tool. A lot has changed in 10 years time. Now HP's announced a project to put its proprietary Unix features into Red Hat. That's what Project Odyssey amounts to, in a nutshell. In what might take even longer, HP says it's moving HP-UX onto a commodity chip, Intel's Xeon.

Suprtool/Open was a long project for Robelle's Neil Armstrong to undertake. The company followed the needs of its customers in timing the development, testing and full release of its software for data management, extraction and transfer. But Robelle's always taken the long view toward the shortest path to data and migration support. Even in 2002, Green knew the community would be making its moves over a decade and more, slowly and carefully.

Migrate at your own pace… step by step. We all know that the cost to change IT systems is high, especially when switching from a known reliable platform like MPE to a new platform of unknown quality. But these days you do not need everything in your shop on one platform. Suprtool from Robelle is already widely used to help integrate HP systems with Windows, Linux, Sun, and IBM systems by sharing data. One of our customers uses Suprtool to distribute their data from the 3000 to a nationwide network of HP-UX boxes, and then bring new data back to the 3000 for integration.

As for that emulator support, Robelle's moved quickly. Back in January, the company had a release of Suprtool ready for use on the Charon HPA/3000 virtualized 3000 solution. At the same time that this emulator was first emerging from beta testing, Green's team was complimentary of this expansion of 3000 futures.

We have installed and been testing our products and made them available on a test virtual server. So far the test has been relatively issue free. We did bring the system down once with a large and fast read, but Stromasys had the issue fixed over a weekend.

So far the response to issues has been fantastic, and follow up from Stromasys has been very attentive! It is fascinating to know that this all works on an Intel box.

As 2012 began Robelle was both polishing up its first SuprtoolOpen as well as testing and trying out certain functionality on the emulator, "especially those things that drive IO and or memory." That's a demo of another kind. It is proving that its 2002 life-of-the-3000 statement includes both support for migrations (to targets such as Marxmeier's Eloquence database) as well as the technical resources to ride the latest wave of enterprise designs: virtualization.