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May 2013

What Else Everyone is Doing These Days

Multifaceted-150x150Multi-tasking has been debunked, but a multi-faceted career is common in your 3000 community. We used to think we could work on several things at once. Now it's obvious that what we really need to do is work at something else, even while we all take care of the partner who brought us to the computer dance.

Take Birket Foster, for example. One of the best-known 3000 community members, he has been chairman and director of Storm Internet Services since 2003. The wireless Internet company serves customers in rural and outlying areas of Eastern Ontario. Not a small venture, either, but one built upon HP 3000 success. A recent article in the Eastern Ontario AgriNews took note of Storm's latest "freestanding wireless tower and company support centre, [raised up] on the grounds of his longtime software business on Main Street in Chesterville."

No MB Foster Associates, no Storm. The wireless venture grew up during the transition era for the 3000. This is what I mean by the "else" much of the community does. Take Richard Corn, who created the ESPUL and NP92 printing utilities for MPE, all the way back to the Classic 3000 days. Rich, a charter supporter of the Newswire, is also selling Cloud Print for Windows software today. Again, no RACC, no Software Devices LLC, where that Windows software is developed and sold. He's still supporting ESPUL, by the way.

I could include myself in the What Else Workers. My partner Abby and I established the Newswire when most people knew her as Dottie Lentz, and for years we did nothing else but 3000 information services. From the days of her Bolt Bucks giveaways at HP World conferences, we've evolved into additional ventures. My own What Else is The Writer's Workshop, where writers who range from fledglings to published novelists gather Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and by appointment to learn and practice storytelling. They finish novels like Danuta or Lay Death at Her Door. I finished my novel Viral Times during the transition era. Without missing a day of the 3000 news from our current times, I could re-engage my fundamental skills and desire: storytelling and writing. I strut my stuff on The Write Stuff and Twitter about storytelling at @ronseybold.

Does the 3000 community suffer from the What Else work? It depends on your perspective and role. Did you sell HP 3000s and create them, or launch new customers with your applications? Adding a facet to those jobs might be at the 3000's expense. Ecometry cast away its 3000 aspirations -- although it supports several dozen MPE sites -- to create a Windows multichannel commerce version of what was once known as MACS/3000, built by Alan Gardner and partner Will Smith. Gardner and Smith never get to sell off the company for millions unless they've built up more than 300 customers using their software.

Alas, no new Ecometry sites today, but Robelle is among the companies still supporting the 3000 version of the software. Its website tells the Ecometry user "you are already a Robelle customer, even if you don't realize it, since the Ecometry application uses Robelle's Suprtool to speed up data access." For more than a decade Robelle has sold HP-UX versions of Suprtool, and even more lately, a Linux version. Not exactly a What Else, just another facet. But when we speak of Robelle, we must make a transition in this What Else tale to those who continue to dedicate themselves to the 3000. They've chosen no sort of What Else, often for reasons of strict technical focus.

Continue reading "What Else Everyone is Doing These Days" »

10 Simple Steps to Security Compliance

Float-staircaseEditor's Note: Our security expert Steven Hardwick of Oxygen Finance wraps up his tutorial on the process of compliance by providing the list below -- written out as directly as if it were self-help advice in a magazine. Help yourself to a better grasp of meeting any security requirements, especially those which may present themselves for the first time after a migration.

By Steven Hardwick, CISSP
Oxygen Finance

Last in a series

Putting a security program in place can be very simple and extremely effective. Another advantage is that the mitigation effort can be done over a period of time, spreading out the cost and effort required. Plus, this will get more people involved and help create awareness and make compliance easier. Finally, an on-going program will give on-going protection against a breach.

Mapping it out

Here are 10 simple steps that can be followed to help make the process of compliance a lot easier:

1) Identify the various information types that are in your organization. This is called a data categorization exercise. This will give a good understanding of what needs to be protected.

2) Pick a security framework to build a model of what type of security controls you need in your organization.

3) Breakdown the controls into Physical, Technical and Administrative to highlight the owner of the control.

4) Take stock of what is in place already by completing an internal audit. This can be done using internal resources or external companies can be hired to conduct it.

5) Create a baseline. This will give a set of security controls that are in place and broken into definable categorizes. This jump start will make a compliance exercise a lot easier.

Continue reading "10 Simple Steps to Security Compliance" »

Hardware Cherished, Hardware Valued

HP's 3000 hardware has been taking a free fall in market value for several years by now, a slide that's drawn even the biggest of servers into the low five-figures of price. This is the way of the world for every computer ever built. But it happens more slowly to the computers which are cherished, instead of just used.

CherishA few messages out on the 3000 newsgroup highlighted that fact of our life in 2013. Tom Lang was forced to sell his Series 918RX, because he doesn't have room to use it in his new working space. He announced it was on offer at the end of February. Over "many weeks," as he reported, many enquirers asked lots of questions about the server. In mid-May, he reduced the price of the system to $1,100.

There are a lot of extras in Lang's package. These bonus parts don't show up in a lot of Series 918s. And the system has probably the best feature of all: a valid MPE/iX license. HP doesn't make those any longer, and nobody can emulate that element, either.

However, Lang heard from other 3000 owners and managers that four figures were at least one figure too many to sell a server that HP used as the 1.0 rating benchmark -- back when HP used to rate 3000 performance. For the record, the fastest 3000 ever produced, and sold for well over six figures at the time, ran at 49 times the power of a 918.

In ancient times, HP used a Series 37 Mighty Mouse as its 1.0 rating. The Series 37 did not outlast HP's MPE licensing business, however. Lang was told on the group that two Series 918s went directly to the scrap heap at one UK business. At another site, one manager said the price that seemed reasonable for a server that included a license was $200.

Until HP relents and begins to sell MPE/iX licenses to go with its Reseller Agreement for the Stromasys Charon 3000 emulator, $200 seems pretty low.

Continue reading "Hardware Cherished, Hardware Valued" »

How to Comply with Security Audit Requests

Editor's Note: At the intersection of cutting-edge security needs and the new territory of migration environments lay security regulations. HP 3000 managers might not be familiar with any process that goes beyond HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley or PCI credit card demands. (Although that sounds like a pretty big list anyway.) As a result of his job advising the clients of Oxygen Finance, security expert Steven Hardwick has taken us through the steps of responding to security regulation requests -- and proving your system's compliance.

By Steven Hardwick

Third in a series

In many cases, a compliance audit is viewed like a bad case of the flu. While it is ongoing it is miserable and many wish it would end. Once over, everyone is happy it is behind them. Fortunately, like the flu, precautions can be taken to help make the event a lot less traumatic and uncomfortable.

A request to comply to a specific regulations can be daunting. The major challenge is that the regulations are written by security specialists and for security specialists. To make matters worse, the regulations themselves may not be overly specific in the exact response required. 

AuditOne of the first steps is to understand which data set is covered by the regulation. As outlined in our second article, a regulation is directed to a specific set of information: PCI = credit card data, for example. It is very important to identify the people, systems and environments that deal with the data in question. This will give an indication of the minimum scope of the regulations. 

Minimum? Well, one advantage of a regulation is that it is compiled from security specialists. Although the full measure of the regulation applies to specific data sets, there is no reason that elements of the requirements can't be used for other data sets. In fact, it may be easier to apply the certain requirement to all data in a certain system; encryption is a good example.

The next step is to try and categorize the requirements against the security controls they relate to. The goal of a regulation is to look at a wide variety of ways information can be compromised. This will break down into the physical, technical and administrative groups (which we covered in our first article). Doing this, you can make an alignment with the owner of the area that's affected. 

Finally, determine who should be the final decision maker when it comes to defining how well the regulation has been met. Compliance is an exercise in measuring the security environment against an approved set of requirements. One constant challenge is what to do if the environment does not meet the standard. This exposes a risk to the organization. You must decide to either address the risk (mitigate it), transfer the risk (buy insurance) or accept it (do not mitigate). Since senior management is responsible for assessing the risk to the corporation, they must be part of the decision-making when it comes to compliance. Especially mitigating any gaps found during the compliance assessment. 

By the way, “doing nothing” equals accepting the risk.

Continue reading "How to Comply with Security Audit Requests" »

eZ-MPE opens new Windows for 3000 sites

Print-ExclusiveMB Foster is announcing a hybrid of solutions aimed at making migrations off the 3000 easier. The company is calling its offering MBF eZ-MPE, and it’s aiming customers at the native benefits of working in Windows once they make their transition. MBF eZ-MPE is a solution for HP 3000 sites that have a keen interest in transitioning to a Windows environment, while they preserve their company’s competitive advantage and legacy applications.

Knowing the computing processes of HP 3000 managers for more than 35 years gives MB Foster the insight to build a complete ecosystem, said the company’s sales and marketing chief Chris Whitehead. 

“What we’re really doing here is we’re mimicking the environment that everybody’s accustomed to using,” Whitehead said. “To get all those nuances, you must have all the specific capabilities already there. With all HP 3000 sites they have some similarities. They have UDCs, file systems, KSAM that’s involved with MPE files. They all have an IMAGE database.” 

For example, the database environment mimics the IMAGE database, Whitehead said. A command line utility manages other functions and data types.

The eZ-MPE solution evolved during the migrating of custom code for customers into a Windows environment, the target environment for eZ-MPE migrations. For example, MBF Scheduler has been replacing the features and comprehensive functionality of HP 3000 batch scheduler and job control software including independently managed queues and a “job fence,” mimicking a module which is embedded in MPE/iX.

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Business Critical System Q2 sales plummet

HPQ Q2Hewlett-Packard announced a $1.1 billion profit on its fiscal Q2 today, but the figures were not buoyed by the HP segment which makes replacement systems for HP 3000 migrators. Business Criticial Systems -- the group where Itanium systems are sold, along with the HP-UX that runs only on that server -- saw its sales drop 37 percent from the Q2 of last year.

The overall news was not as grim from the rest of HP Enterprise Group, the organization where Linux-capable ProLiant servers are sold along with networking gear. Enterprise Group revenue declined 10 percent year over year. Networking revenue was flat, but those Industry Standard Servers' revenue that drives Linux hosts was down 12 percent. Storage sales fell 13 percent and Technology Services revenue was down 3 percent year over year.

HP CEO Meg Whitman decided to shine the spotlight on HP's overall ability to beat the market's estimates for profits. The company posted a total of $27.6 billion in overall sales, which was a drop of 10 percent from 2012. Whitman had to point at the Non-Generally Accepted Accounting Pracitces numbers -- always more favorable -- to claim a win.

"We beat the upper end of our non-GAAP diluted [Earings Per Share] EPS outlook for the quarter by 5 cents per share, driven by better than expected performance in Enterprise Services and Printing, coupled with the accelerated capture of restructuring savings and improvement in our operations," said Whitman.

HP estimated its 2013 earnings to be in the range of $2.50 to $2.60, in line with HP's previously communicated outlook. For 2013, HP is accounting for after-tax costs of approximately $1 per share, "related primarily to the amortization of purchased intangible assets, restructuring charges and acquisition-related charges.

"I am encouraged by our performance in the second quarter, and I feel good about the rest of the year," added Whitman. "As I have said many times before, this is a multi-year journey. We have a long way to go, but we are on track to deliver on our fiscal 2013 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share outlook."

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Finding our Fix-It Chick. Got yours?

WideWorldHead185As I write my offices are full of the sounds of saws, nail guns, feet shuffling across old floors and power clicking off and on. Let me explain. We’re making a change or 57 here, something that feels as profound as any transition project — whether to an emulator for homesteading, or the revisions for migrations.

People as old as most 3000 veterans can marvel at what the Web has brought since we began our careers. These days I talk to experts who started computing when modems were 110 baud, instead of the networked 18 gigabits that don’t even require a modem. We've upgraded our Internet speed pipe here at the NewsWire, a company that has always called our house its home. That home, like your server, is in need of changes.

For 18 years, our back two side-by-side bedrooms have bristled with wires strung between the rooms of our offices, added for one new device or scheme. We upgraded our infrastructure, as an IT manager would say; much is wireless. But we’ve been doing much more, changes with a senior future in mind. Perhaps like you. Fortunately, we have help to plan, as well as implement. We're clever and bright, but we need the help. Perhaps like you, or like our ally Birket Foster has long suggested.

Abby and I are doing our latest, largest renovation of our 36-year-old house this spring. It’s a task with details, surprises, planning and delight in the results. This morning while I write, we are watching new Ikea cabinets rise in a kitchen that was gutted, but still working before the demo of tile countertops and a stove and oven with many turkeys and pies in its history.

We have moved walls, painted and removed the antiquated ceiling popcorn, watched the sculpture of drywall floating and mudding, the art of tiling with glass. On and on it goes, from a ‘70’s bathtub to a steam shower, from chipped and unforgiving floor tile to nature-friendly bamboo, to creating a space where my lovely yogini can practice her stretching arts in a guest room with a Murphy bed to make a studio floor appear.

Long ago my friend Birket had his kitchen in his Chesterville home remodeled. This too was a house where a business grew up. The basement of his first location had 3000s networked into racks and employees who arrived at the kitchen door to sell and create software and follow a vision.

After his remodel, Birket began to compare a big project like migration or renovation to a remodel. You succeed, he always said, with a great plan and a good guide. Abby and I have been lucky to have both of these, but the most important is our general contractor, designer and now friend, Kristi Copeland.

Continue reading "Finding our Fix-It Chick. Got yours?" »

Six Years of Insight on the Afterlife

HellSix years ago this month I revisited the site where I first heard of the "death of the HP 3000." HP wanted to call its exit from the 3000 community by that phrase in November, 2001. Instead we're thinking about the afterlife this month, in the wake of the North American sales force opening for the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator. Who needs this? At the Stromasys event, I heard from third party support companies that Hewlett-Packard continues to use MPE/iX applications -- which must be pretty crucial and costly to migrate.

It's a safe to say that the Worldwide Reseller Agreement for the emulator could be a benefit to HP's own operations. Such systems are usually scheduled for migration. But as Stromasys GM Bill Driest said at this month's Training Day, "I'm a quota-carrying salesman, and the phrase we use is "Liars are buyers.' "

In other words, a customer who says they'll migrate has a chance of being on the server longer than they expect. Does that make them liars when they say they'll be off the 3000? Maybe, but more likely it's a matter of timing and degree -- the same things that tamped down my panic when I heard in a phone booth in Lausanne's train station my distraught partner Abby telling me, "HP says the 3000 is going away. They're not going to make it anymore. They need to talk to you, before they announce."

I ponder the afterlife that's emerged because that's where I think my mom is today. We sent her off in a memorial service on Sunday, when three of us eulogized her with imaginations of her dancing in heaven, catching up my dad in the afterlife, or asserting, like I did (at 12:00 in the YouTube video), "They say nothing dies if it lives on in the hearts and minds of those who love it."

The MPE/iX OS, apps and IMAGE are doing more than living in hearts and minds. They live in companies like HP. The ecosystem was supposed to be the death of the 3000, according to the HP speaking in 2001. Instead, it's becoming a place where the customers who need help are getting supported. Even if they need an interim emulator to buy, so applications can remain where they lie.

Continue reading "Six Years of Insight on the Afterlife" »

Making Headway with a Static OS

Stromasys has been selling its emulator products for more than a decade, and with significant success since HP's Digital group stopped the sale of Alpha and PDP servers. But VMS -- even while it's made a transition to OpenVMS over the years -- is still updated and supported by Hewlett-Packard. MPE/iX does not enjoy this status. There's a bit of irony by now, as it relates to the Stromasys product. You cannot order an MPE/iX server (with hardware and a fresh OS license) from HP any longer. But the Stromasys Charon HPA software is now part of HP's Worldwide Reseller Agreement.

Yes, this new software product that runs on industry-standard Intel hardware qualifies for HP resale status, unlike the server which it emulates. Go figure; nobody wants to be bothered with building hardware anymore.

But the lack of a supported OS as a keystone to a Stromasys emulator -- well, that seems novel. However, at the recent Training Day for the product, GM Bill Driest said selling a product with a vendor-curtailed OS is not all that unique, in his view.

"We don't see this market as fundamentally different from what we've done for a number of years now, to get 5,000 customers in 50 countries," Driest said on May 10 at the Training. "From a sales and marketing perspective, this is our US launch. I have a handful of customers in the US, so we are just embarking on this new market for us, worldwide. There are existing references and customers in Australia, New Zealand."

But from a tactical perspective, he said, those Digital system successes have taken place with an OS that's not available: the apps use versions of VMS that are locked in and not qualified for any extra engineering HP adds to that OS. This is, he believes, essentially the same situation as an MPE/iX market that can go no further than the 7.5 release.

Continue reading "Making Headway with a Static OS" »

Many Different Ways to Move Your Console

There's been plenty of change in the 3000 manager's life over the last 10 years. Some of it might involve changing the location of HP 3000s from one part of the IT shop to another. Users and support experts have discussed the many ways to adjust a 3000 console's location. The method you choose depends on budget, experience and technical skills depth.

Kent Wallace, a 3000 manager for Idaho-Oregon healthcare delivery system Primary Health, needed to move his 3000 console:

I was asked to move the console another 10 feet (more) from the rack (it's an N-Class HP 3000/N4000-100-22). What are the 3 pin positions on the wire that I need to extend this RS-232 cable?

Reid Baxter of JP Chase offered the most direct answer, for those willing to modify cables. "Pins 2, 3 and 7."

Tracy Johnson of Measurement Specialties added:

In addition to what Reid said, you can also get a 3-pin mini-din extension cord and extend the other end.

Our blog contributing editor Gilles Schipper chipped in with a solution offering even farther movement:

If you want to extend the range of the console to anywhere on the planet (at least where there’s Internet access) you could consider the HP Secure Web Console to replace the physical console.

Depending upon the condition of your physical console, this solution may also save a bit of wear and tear on your eyeballs.

(Schipper wrote us a great article on setting up such a web console.)

Continue reading "Many Different Ways to Move Your Console" »

Old and Grand, and Still Worthy of Salute

Newswire Editorial 

One week before my latest birthday I was sharing hope about an aging icon. “She’s a tank,” I said to my sister Tina. We said this often to one another about my mom, who was 87 when she passed away late last month. Death and perhaps the  afterlife comes to everything that is vital, endearing and revered. Ginny Seybold, born in the era before radio was king, died peacefully in her bed. She was vital in heart and mind until nearly the end. All of us – brother Bob, Tina, older brother John, my bride and partner Abby — we all desired more years from mom.

But in a few hours from now I will board a jet to fly to Toledo, the place she gave birth to us, and put on the black suit I reserve for occasions of joy (my kids’ weddings) and of sad times. I will give a eulogy and certainly cry through it, just as I am at this very moment I’m creating these words. My mom taught me to read, gave me the first words of countless ones that I would learn to ride like fresh breeze throughout my life and hers. For more than a decade I would work and tinker at a novel, while she was devouring everything her Irish favorite Maeve Binchy wrote, until I could finally finish mine and send it to her, just like the hardbacks I’d buy because she wasn’t getting out to the library as easily. But when a novel would arrive, she’d scamper through the book like she would dance across floors from the 1930s up to her 80th birthday. My mom outlasted expectations of her vivacity.

Since I am her boy, I can use a comparison with a bold stroke. In that outlasting, the push of the tank of her heart, she resembled the computer I have written about for more than half my life. People expected the 3000’s demise many years ago. Now with an emulated version selling and shipping, for the 3000’s relations and disciples, Charon has become the kind of tank that Tina and I marveled at when we visited mom in the Franciscan Care Center.

Continue reading "Old and Grand, and Still Worthy of Salute" »

Virtualization, Emulation and the Cloud

DriestAtEventAt the recent meeting of Charon HPA/3000 experts, prospects, and allies, a question emerged from Steve Cooper of Allegro, who wanted an update on the cloud-based capabilities of Charon for 3000s. “Technologically it’s a slam dunk,” said Stromasys General Manager Bill Driest (above), adding that the implementation on Charon VAX and Alpha versions has been tested and implemented for about eight customers so far. Others have been working with a perpetual license for the product in their private clouds.

"We know some customers who have bought a perpetual license are running it in a private cloud environment," Driest said at the recent HP 3000 Training and Social Event. "How we're going to monetize that market is something I think the people in this room can help us with."

The company was represented at last year's VM World virtualization conference. "Cloud is a growing part of our business," Driest said. "We had a full cloud demonstration, live, and up and running. We're able to provision a machine on the fly. We had two different sized VAXes, two different sized Alphas. We're trying to assess the market for this. How big is that subset?"

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HP's 3000 virtualization was MOST-ly done

MOSTBalanceNineteen springtimes ago, HP was offering an operating system to run alongside MPE on the same hardware. To say that HP's Multiple Operating System Technology was virtualization might be an overstatement. But the unreleased product gave Unix and MPE equal footing in a single hardware system. MPE was the cradle that Unix would rest in, much like Linux is the cradle where the PA-RISC virtualization rests in the Stromasys Charon product. The only reason it was not released might have been the horsepower demands on the hardware. MOST was not starved off the price list by a lack of HP desire from the 3000 division. But the daring of its engineering was on a battleground between HP's own products.

I worked on external communications for MOST for Hewlett-Packard in the spring of 1995. It was one of the biggest assignments I took on during the months that led up to creating the 3000 NewsWire. The audacity of putting a venerated OS in as a bootstrap system for HP-UX apps led me to believe HP was exploring every prospect to win any customer who was veering toward the market's magnetic pull of Unix.

HP showed off external specifications for MOST to key partners in '95. The product was scheduled to emerge in the fall of that year on Series 9x9 and 99X PA-RISC systems. These were the highest horsepower 3000s in the HP stable. MOST was to begin with two partitions, one for MPE/iX and the other for HP-UX. Or, a customer could run two separate instances of MPE on a single server. MPE was to be the primary partition, controlling the uptime of the hardware.

In one sense, this product wouldn't have been a 3000 -- because half of it would be dedicated to running Unix apps and processes. Independence, a white paper on the product stated, "is especially important, as the co-dependencies between the different OS should be as small as possible."

MOST might have been ahead of its time in hardware requirements, but it reminds me of the virtualization that nearly every operating system enjoys today. The Stromasys Charon lineup, the VMware partitions which run Windows, Linux, and Mac OS all at once -- all of these flow from the concept that drove MOST. Well, there's a major difference. HP didn't release MOST, even after a beta test period and surveys that showed most of the customers saw it as an evolutionary path to heterogenous computing.

Continue reading "HP's 3000 virtualization was MOST-ly done" »

The magic code for licenses HP never sold

The meeting room brimmed at the Computer History Museum May 10, where Stromasys spooled out more than six hours of technical briefing as well as the product strategy and futures for Charon HPA/3000. This emulator was anticipated more than eight years ago, but only came to the market in 2012. And that gap, largely introduced by HP's intellectual property lawyers, killed one license needed to run MPE on any Intel server.

But the good news is that an HP licensing mechanism still exists for MPE/iX to operate under the Charon emulator -- pretty much on any good-sized Intel system that can run VMware and Linux. However, you need to know how to ask HP for the required license.

Charon HPA product manager Paul Taffel uncorked the phrase that permits a customer to switch their MPE/iX from HP iron to PC or Mac hardware. It's called "an intra-company license transfer." If you don't ask for it by name, the standard HP transfer forms won't pass muster. Most SLTs happen between two companies. Who'd sell themselves their own hardware, after all?

In short HP's using its existing and proven Software License Transfer (SLT) mechanism to license emulated 3000s. It's doing this because of that delay which ran out the clock on a hard-earned path to the future. HP called it the Emulator License back in 2005. It just happened to need an emulator on sale in order for a customer to buy this license.

The Emulator License isn't quite like the mythical griffin of ancient lore. It made more sense than a jackalope. But the process to earn one of these licenses is not well known yet, which was one of the reasons Stromasys held its training and social event.

Continue reading "The magic code for licenses HP never sold" »

Socializing can lead to contained footprints

BeerflowersOur friend and columnist Scott Hirsh just called to confirm he'll be at tonight's Stromasys HP 3000 Social at the Tied House. I took the walk over there today, because it's just down the street from the Caltrain Station as well as the terminal for the San Jose light rail. Buffalo burger is today's special.

But what's more special is the range of 3000 sites who'd be Charon HPA/3000 prospects, if only they knew how to focus on fitting into a new server paradigm. One site that Scott visited out in Union City, Calif. was discussing available IT datacenter floor space. "How are you fixed for that?" says Scott.

"Well, we've got this big system in the back of the datacenter we have to keep running," the IT manager says, explaining the server keeps significant parts of the company running. Even though Scott is out there in Union City to help the manager with Dell solutions, he's curious about what this box is.

"We're pretty sure it's an old HP 3000," the manager says. Scott's invited him tonight for some beverages and heavy appetizers, but there's been no RSVP yet from Union City. If you're in the area, come by tonight, or tomorrow at the Computer History Museum. You might find a way to free up floor space while you don't have to throw your critical MPE applications overboard.

Hope to see you tonight over a pint. You never know what opportunity might bloom, like those curbside flowers growing out of a beer cask on Villa Street at the Tied House.

IT Security: Too Expensive, Too Difficult?

Editor's Note: Migrating HP 3000 sites must be responsible for security in more extended detail, once they move operations onto open enterprise environments. In the second of a series of articles, CISSP security expert Steven Hardwick of Oxygen Finance outlines how security regulations, agreed upon by the industry, help the secure IT environment.

By Steven Hardwick
Oxygen Finance

Why do we need security regulations which relate to IT anyway? Many IT professionals believe compliance is way too complicated. Or that it costs a lot of time and money that could be better spent. For example, the HP 3000 might have better, OS-level security for credit card processing that flows through MPE servers (although that level of protection is available through open source solutions.)

WhySecurityIsHardIf only the data would back up the IT pro's desire to disregard compliance. The latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations report should dispel the myth that security is simply a function of the IT department getting firewall configurations up to date. The 2013 report shows attacks varied from hacking, to social engineering and physical attacks. Physical, technological and administrative security controls were breached to make the attacks possible. In many cases, multiple controls were compromised to breach the organizations infrastructure. But a third of IT pros say security is too hard to implement (click on the graphic for details.)

Why do we need regulations? It boils down to the two distinct challenges with security: a legal definition of malicious behavior, and a difficult to quantify return on investment. First, to address the legal position of defining a malicious act may not be that simple.

Theft in the information world can involve merely taking a copy of the data. The original data may still be in the possession of the owner. To be able to prove theft in this case, a new definition of “illegal copying” has to be defined. In the information world, the copy or the operation that created it has to be detected. It is now a lot more difficult to define information theft as the concept of copying now has to be legally defined.

Continue reading "IT Security: Too Expensive, Too Difficult?" »

Who'll Be Social and Train, and Why

Stromasys-NewswireAdWe've been hearing from 3000 community members who are on the way to the Stromasys HP 3000 Social and Training. The official RSVP list is at Stromasys, but we've gotten some notice from people who want to ensure they meet up at the Tied House brewpub -- Thursday evening (tomorrow!) or at the Computer History Museum Friday 10-4.

On the same day I got notice from Doug Smith -- a 3000 consultant and developer and support provider -- that he'll be at the Stromasys event, HP tried again to wrap up the lifespan of Windows XP. The company that gave up on MPE and the HP 3000 might be just as misguided about XP's future as MPE's. It seems so simple to HP.

Let’s face it—reminiscing about old software programs 20 or so years from now won’t bring about nearly half as many warm memories as that 1967 Pontiac Firebird of your youth. 

You could say that updating business software is akin to changing your toothbrush after it’s seen better days. Can you imagine running Windows 98 on your home PC? Then why would you fight tooth and nail, stubbornly looking into a variety of contingency plans and options to hold onto Windows XP?

The why of holding on is obvious. Smaller companies -- and some surprising large ones -- cannot make a good business case for putting their Firebird of a business server up on blocks. The math on an emulator solution, supplied in good stead with support for MPE and indie software tools -- holds up against projects that start in six figures and take at least a year to deploy.

The Tied House and the Computer History Museum will be places to learn why that toothbrush (the HP hardware) might be old, but the fresh toothpaste (MPE) is still worthy of plenty of extra years. Doug Smith thinks so. So does Walter Murray, who developed HP's COBOL products for the 3000 before exiting Hewlett-Packard to manage 3000s for the state of California. Then there's the contract programmers, and more, simply off our heads-up emails.

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Emulator's days are not so early after all

"It's early days," say more than a few community vendors about the lifespan of the Charon HPA/3000 emulator. They point to a lack of reference accounts. Some note that no third parties are engaged to teach and train and support the virtualization solution. Even the vendor acknowledges the performance of this 3000-on-Intel magic needs to surpass the power of a 4-way N-Class system.

BerraBut it's not early according to Adager's CEO Rene Woc. We tried out the accepted wisdom and found him pushing back on the popular view. It's misguided, by the reports he's getting from customers small, medium and very large. He reached out for a Yogi Berra quote to guide his outlook. "The future ain't what it used to be," Yogi said. That's especially apt when customers are gathering license data for your software, to be used on Charon. Or when they share their intentions, which is to keep MPE software running well into that future. How different it is than it used to be.

These are customers getting information about Adager's license transfer plan. "It's just another MPE machine," Woc reported. "We are treating the emulator just like HP3000 hardware."

As has been well-chronicled by now, there's no technical issues in this complete emulation. "Our customers didn't come across any issues," Woc said. Given the reputation of the Adager labs -- a tight-knit group that uncovered the last, corruptive bug in IMAGE and alerted HP to spark a repair -- "no problems" means Charon runs as expected.

Adager charges a $975 license transfer fee to move software from one HPSUSAN number to another. The software does not cross check with an HPCPUNAME, so moving the HPSUSAN to the emulated server, plus that transfer fee, covers the extent of Adager's operations. This is one vendor that 3000 users don't have to work out a license with. One of many (like Minisoft) who see continuing business coming out of emulated 3000s.

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The Kind of License that Still Matters

Licensing doesn't matter to most of the homesteading community anymore, according to a long-time consultant, former HP SE and board member of the Interex and OpenMPE user and advocate groups. There's an important distinction to be made about what Paul Edwards believes about the 3000 manager. The licenses that matter are the ones that permit the use of supported products.

That puts HP's MPE/iX licenses on the heap of casual concerns while running a 3000 operation in 2013. Hewlett-Packard arranged for a $500 emulator license transfer. The deal was set up six years before an emulator would ever go live on a customer's product site. But the HP license is missing permissions for the Hewlett-Packard subsystem software, some of it still essential. The COBOL II compiler and TurboStore/iX are the most common products among those subsystems.

"Theoretically, the cast of lawyers at HP thinks MPE has got lots of value," Edwards said. "But Joe Computer User, running a 3000 in a little company somewhere, really doesn't care. He'll never see an HP rep who's going to come out and find he doesn't have an MPE license. He'll run whatever applications he's got -- Amisys, something written in Cognos or Speedware, whatever it is -- he'll run that the way it is."

The value of an HP 3000 MPE license seems to be dropping. Edwards, who saw more than a few companies using multiple 3000s on a single license back in the 1980s -- and said he "looked the other way" for the benefit of the customer -- said he bought his latest HP 3000 for less than $500. And with that purchase, a valid license for a 3000 that could be transferred to an emulator. Or sold at a price. Last week the 3000 community saw one of the first open requests to validate an MPE license. By itself, sans hardware, apparently.

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Goodie box delivers 3000 skills, tools

3000 KnowledgeHoward Schelin started his HP 3000 career in Miami migrating. It was 20 years ago, and The Miami Herald had to make a move -- away from IBM and onto the 3000. There was much for Schelin to teach the IT department then, and the Interex user group catalogued all of what was needed. This week a generous box of that reference material and software arrived at our office, because the offices of the Herald are moving along, just like the 3000.

In a few weeks the Miami Herald will be relocated to a new building about 15 miles southwest of 1 Herald Plaza. As in any move, there is a lot of material that gets pushed to the curb. I am sending you items that will not be making the trip to the new location.

CSLTapesThe box as big as a Ram Truck battery had a reel of tape on top, a release of the Interex Contributed Software Library from the days of the early '90s, when DAT cassettes were still a novelty to the user group. But then there were a hearty stack of the familiar boxes that contained software treasures created by fellow managers of 3000s, then given away for the community to use.

Now the HP 3000 is making its migration away from the Herald, Schelin says. "The HP 3000 stay at the Herald is drawing to a close, as its last application is on schedule to be migrated to the cloud by April, 2014. I have been an avid reader of the 3000 NewsWire for many, many years, and I hope you find a home for the enclosed material."

Considering that some of these programs and proceedings continue to be useful tools for the homesteader -- and are difficult to locate -- he's probably right. Maybe not so much that 1993 lab handbook on Managing a POSIX HP3000 System, although the lab was taught by MPE legend Jeff Vance. But the Catalog of the CSL for that year, printed and bound, is a working collector's item. 

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Congrats, Pivital on 10 years an HP VAR

Ten years ago this month the HP 3000 community gained its final official reseller. Pivital Solutions stepped in to sell HP 3000s, even though Hewlett-Packard only intended to manufacture the computers until the end of October, 2003.

In fact the final HP sales of the 3000 crept into 2004, including deliveries and back inventory. Pivital took on the spot because the company had confidence the 3000 user base would be needing official and trained support for many more years to come. An official place in the HP authorized reseller lineup would enhance what the company had been doing for years already.

That extra service has translated into new resources, even recently. Pivital is one of the few holders of a license for the source code for MPE/iX. Support companies use that resource to create workarounds and even custom patches.

In 2003, we wrote:

Pivital Solutions CEO Steve Suraci hears the tick of a different clock than the one which HP has been counting down for 3000 sales. Less than six months before new HP 3000 sales will end at HP, Pivital is ramping up its efforts as the newest authorized reseller of the servers in North America.

Pivital has taken over the system integrator spot in HP’s 3000 hardware channel that’s being abandoned by Dimension Data. Suraci said that Dimension released much of its 3000-capable integration staff which Pivital was working with, and Pivital saw an opportunity emerging from the situation. It may seem to be late, but Pivital sees its entry as early in the lifespan of the 3000 customer 

“Strategically, we know there’s going to be long-term homesteading customers on the HP 3000 out there,” the CEO said. “Even HP is attesting to a quadrant of the market where people will homestead forever. That is a big portion of the customer base which we deal in today.”

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Value Hidden, and Uncovered

This morning I came in to find our backup job stalled. Abortjob was ineffective, as was abortio. I ended up rebooting the system. While coming up, I got the “defective sector” message with “FILE.GROUP.ACCOUNT has an extent with unreadable data.” The file is now locked and I need to use FSCHECK to unlock it. How can I determine which drive this extent is on? I have a good idea which one it is, but I’d like to be 100 percent sure before I replace and reload.

Stan Sieler replies:

FSCHECK’s DISPLAYEXTENTS command may help. Note that, if I recall correctly, it displays logical unit numbers, not exactly LDEVs.

I ran checkslt on the MPE/iX 7.5 SLT and it failed. It failed on a DDS-2 drive on two different systems but passed when a DDS-3 drive was used. The MPE/iX 7.5 SLT is on a 120-meter DDS-2 tape. Is this usual?

Michael Berkowitz replies:

What makes you think you don’t have two bad DDS-2 drives? When we had them, we went through them like water, replacing them every couple of months. They are bad news from the word go.

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Who Will Come to the Emulator's Party

Stromasys-SocialNext week the Charon HPA/3000 emulator will have what one vendor calls its coming out party in North America. The software performs the miracle of making low-cost PCs act like HP's PA-RISC 3000 hardware. Just describing that technical ability widens the eyes of 3000 homesteaders, veterans and some vendors.

On the evening of May 9, we'll get to see some of the eyes of people who want to drop by and gaze on each other over a beverage at the Tied House. The next day will reveal who's doing the closer looking at this software solution. Training will commence at 10. Lunch is included. Cooperation and imagination will be optional entrees on the day's menu.

One HP support company called the other day and said they're promoting Charon as a viable path for a homesteader's future. "I feel like I've been hawking the Stromasys product myself awhile," said Chad Lester of the MPE Support Group. Another company in Austin, the Support Group Inc. that serves the MANMAN and ERP customer, has a strong belief in the future of Charon HPA/3000.

But so far, we've only heard of one company that's engaged a third party software vendor in an instance of emulator production use. Cognos is working at the Australian insurance firm where Warren Dawson has testified to us, as well as to the European HP users who attended an event similar to next week's. IBM's Charlie Maloney, a veteran of many Cognos days, has started looking for an IBM PR rep to talk with us about licensing Powerhouse for emulator use.

Technical ability will need to be married to software property rights for this software to make an impact. We're hearing ample talk from MPE/iX software vendors about license support. Robelle's going on record as a Charon supporter. VEsoft wants to work with customers who'd like to run MPEX, Security/3000 and Audit/3000 on the emulator. HP has an emulator license for the product, legally operable so long as a currently licensed 3000 is being turned off to transfer its license to Charon.

More than one vendor with plenty of 3000 software ISV connections believes it's early days for the emulator's commercial merits. It's up to the homesteading customer to arrange all license arrangements to move their software utilities and applications to a PC-Linux host for virtualized MPE/iX hosting. It will be a good sign if some customers arrive at next week's event who have third party apps, such as MANMAN, Ecometry or even Amisys, and they need to arrange the arrival of their software. Some software vendors are waiting to hear about their emulator needs on this unlimited platform.

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