Data migration taxes migration time budgets
Promises, and a Revolt, from 25 Years Ago

Compliance rule pipes MPE app to emulator

RacineRacine Water & Wastewater, a municipal utility in Wisconsin, ran an HP 3000 and associated billing applications for decades. The organization even made the shift to final-generation HP hardware with an A-Class server. After the utility shifted IT operations to another platform in 2008, the Hewlett-Packard hardware for MPE/iX chugged along in archival mode. But the risk in running on drives more than a decade old grew serious. The organization that serves 100,000 customers in the communities around Lake Michigan reached out to an emulation platform from Stromasys to keep its archives vital.

The utility needed to maintain a legacy system in order to access archived data. After they had migrated their primary billing system to a newer system, only four years of archived data could be migrated to the new environment. More than 25 years of records remained on the HP 3000. By 2014, they knew they needed a solution to continue to access billing records stored on the HP 3000.

The State of Wisconsin mandates access to billing history records. To meet those compliance needs, the utility engaged with an independent consultant to research archival solutions. Mike York of Assertive Systems in Wisconsin began his due diligence and demo testing. Charon HPA came in for review, and while retrieving that A-Class server's HPSUSAN number, the HP hardware suffered a disk failure. Stromasys was able to help recover the system, even before the utility had adopted the Charon emulator.

According to a case study on the Stromasys website, a DDS-1 backup tape failed to load. Recovery was stalled. Ken Scolaro, administrative manager for the utility, was working with York to try to bring HP's 3000 hardware back online.

Scolaro and York sent a backup tape to the Stromasys engineer providing support on the project. Stromasys purchased a DDS-1 tape drive for the data recovery, and utilizing Oracle Box, built a Virtual Machine and recovered the HP 3000 system. After recovering the tape data and configuring the virtual HP 3000 with MPE/iX 7.5, the virtual machine was exported and sent via thumb drive to the customer. The utility then imported that VM to its local server.

The Stromasys sales representative provided a proof of concept for us," York said. "He accomplished this from an old and very questionable backup tape. Amazing." 

The Racine utility replaced the Hewlett-Packard iron with Intel-based hardware. Twenty years of data is now available via Charon. "Utility staff did not even notice this change was made," Scolaro said. "The system installed easily without any unexpected problems," the case study on the Stromasys website reports. "It has run flawlessly ever since."