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January 14, 2019

How far behind is MPE/iX, really? One look...

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Ten years ago a system admin who used a 3000 explained why emulation seemed to be a bad idea. In the era of 2009 there was no software to emulate PA-RISC processing on an Intel system. The problem really didn't need repairing, said James Byrne of Harte & Lyne, because "The world has moved on considerably, since 2001, while MPE/iX has not."

At the time his firm was still using two 918LX systems, a primary and a hot spare at an off-site location. Many a 3000's life has been extended because one key application was working with no need to invest in it. There were other things to be said about the suitability of MPE/iX now, as well as 10 years ago. There are things to be said in reply, too, because in life and IT, few things are as straightforward as they seem.

One expert who's supported HP 3000s and MPE is Donna Hofmeister. In 2009 as well as now she supports companies at Allegro. Byrne's problems with MPE/iX in 2009 as well as today didn't seem quite as serious when she examined them. Caution is required while using an operating system that was last patched a decade ago. As in traffic signals, caution does not mean stop.

Even in the year 2009, when I pointed out that seven-plus years of no emulator didn't mean "no emulator, ever," Byrne kept to his course. "It does seem to me the prudent way to bet nonetheless," he wrote me. Whether you believe in an emulator's promise or not, MPE/iX is the deal-breaker here in 2019. It doesn't have as many fundamental shortcomings as it seemed a decade ago. I asked Donna about it, saying "Here we are in 2019, still caring about the 3000 and its OS. You could’ve won a good bet about that one."

Nobody is doubting that the world has moved on since the end of 2001, but "there are still plenty of companies running MPE." Hofmeister adds that "MPE is not as up-to-date as other OSes. There are ways, however, of dealing with that."

In 2009 Byrne said that "Basic FTP and Telnet are inherently insecure and increasingly discarded methods of data transfer. SSL with SHA2 or SHA512 encryption is a de facto, and in many instances a de jure, requirement for business data communication between hosts and even for inter-process communication on unsealed servers."

As far as Hofmeister knows, there is no solution for the Telnet issue. "But for FTP there is SFTP -- freely available from Allegro's website. Yes, it's old but it works and addresses the 'no plain text' issue."

Languages for development looked like a problem 10 years ago.

Compiler-driven languages are all but completely replaced in new business application development by interpretive, and processor intensive, virtual machines (IVM) such as Java, PHP, Python, Ruby and so forth.
"There's absolutely no reason that an MPE system can't fit into the above pardigm (oooo, I just used that word!). Rather than depend on a human or batch, applications can be 'revised' to respond to external request. Yes, it takes work but "good hard work never hurt anyone", right?
 
Mombi
"Mombi is one of our MPE systems. The list on the right is all the things that our Nagios server is monitoring on Mombi. Yeah, the 'Industry Standard In IT Infrastructure Monitoring' is happily watching the 'health' of an MPE system. Did it take rocket science to make this work? No...just a wee bit of coding, some design specs and a lot of testing.

08:14 PM in Migration | Permalink

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