October 22, 2019

HP's kids: Children who can't say yes, or no

Merry-go-round amusement parkPhoto by Marjorie Bertrand on Unsplash

Editor's note: Developer, vendor, and advocate Alan Yeo has passed away at age 65 after a lifetime of work for the 3000 community. His essay below was written in 2005 amid the early years of the computer's Transition Era. He wrote about the damage done after migrations were first triggered by HP's 2001 pullout, then postponed on a fuzzy timeline from the entity the community was calling the virtual HP division for the server, vCSY.

Vendors like Yeo who weathered HP's stormy strategy took on a lot of water because of HP's revision of its end of service deadline. Yeo's use of metaphor and allegory here are a fine tribute to his wit and intelligence that the world has lost. ScreenJet, his company, followed his insight to survive the turmoil.

By Alan Yeo

That's it, children, just give the merry-go-round another shove, just when passengers thought it was stopping and they could get off it and get on with planning the rest of their lives. Oh yes, some of the children will be happy; the period before they have to decide which ride to take next has been extended. But for the adults either already behind schedule, or struggling to get attention-deficit children to concentrate on important decisions, it's just another frustrating delay.

Now it wouldn't be too bad if the very Careless Stupid Youngsters ("vCSY") nudging the merry-go-round on weren't the same vCSY who had planned its retirement, and had then encouraged its customers and partners to seek out new more exciting future-proof rides. But no, to compound the disappointment they caused their passengers when they announced the ride was ending, they now have to say, “We lied, we didn't mean it, the ride's not ending yet!”

Is this because they think their passengers are still having the best ride in the fair? Perhaps they think they can just keep it spinning under their control for a while longer, that there are another 3000 pieces of silver to be extracted for their parents, the only Happy Party ("HP") in this.

And what of vCSY partners, and the encouragement they received to help transport the passengers to other rides when the Merry-go-round stopped. Or even those they encouraged to build an organisation to help those passengers that wanted to stay on the Merry-go-round and even maintain it after the ride had stopped.

For yes, there was an organisation of such Open Minded Passengers Established ("OpenMPE") that hoped to provide counseling and support for those who chose to stay, and even to build a work shop to repair the Merry-go-round Physical Environment ("MPE") for them. What of OpenMPE's chances now? Why would anyone invest in them when they need it, if the HP and vCSY are going to keep the ride spinning and the MPE supported?

And what of those who vCSY encouraged to build the transport for the passengers to other rides — their parents (the HP) had no transport of their own. Those vendors built the busses the planes and the trains, and even migrated some of the passengers to new rides. What are they to do now, just sit there with the engines running for a couple more years whilst the merry-go-round spins on?

And what of those partners vCSY encouraged to build infrastructures to keep old merry-go-round's functioning and provide support for the MPE? For them, the ride has been delayed for two more years, and it has reduced the number of potential passengers to the point where it may not be economic to hang around and wait.

And what of those passengers who vCSY forced to flee early to other rides, with threats of a failing ecosystem and that the ride would become unsafe unless they left before the cock crowed at the dawn of 2007? Was their journey unnecessary, in pointless haste, and to an earlier or higher cost than needed? If some of them felt pricked when vCSY announced the ride was to stop, some of them will surely feel stabbed in the back by the HP who lied.

So what can one say about these children, those who can't say Yes, can't say No, and for whom Maybe is a mantra. Would you trust the support of your merry-go-round to them now? Would you trust them to help enable an ecosystem to maintain the MPE after they finally tire of it? Would you believe them if they told you Y2K came after 1999?

As for me, I would no longer give them the time of day, far less ask it of them, for fear they would get it wrong. What's so unfortunate is that it would be much easier if one could believe that there was some great conspiracy within HP and with vCSY to completely jerk both their customers and partners around. But as someone else has said today, “plain stupid" beats “malevolent" most of the time.

And what do vCSY think they have done for the passengers on the Merry-go-round by keeping it spinning for another two years? If they actually had the ability to support the MPE it would be fine, but the average third party ISV now retains more expertise than the whole of vCSY. A third party will also know what a merry-go-round is if you call them, and will probably charge far less than the HP if you need spares or repairs for your merry-go-round.

This statement is subject to limitations and exclusions based on exact merry-go-round configurations, geographic location, ride transition timelines, and other considerations. All characters are fictional and not intended to portray any person or organisation living, dying or dead.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:29 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

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October 17, 2019

Alan Yeo, 1954-2019

Yeo at Reunion

Alan Yeo, a software vendor and developer whose business ultimately led to success as a nexus for the 3000 community in its Transition Era, has died at age 65 after a battle with a small cell cancer. He is survived by his wife Helen, a lifetime of creations he designed with partners, and a gripping voice that gathered and rallied MPE customers after HP quit on their marketplace.

Yeo’s company Affirm, Ltd. rose up in the 1980s as a resource for manufacturers who used the HP 3000 to manage their enterprises. He served a group of customers across the UK and began to move in wider circles with the advent of ScreenJet, his software to modernize the 3000’s bedrock VPlus application interfaces.

ScreenJet arose in the years just before Hewlett-Packard scrapped its business developing 3000s and MPE. While the HP decision left Yeo undaunted in his business aspirations, it also led him to a new role as a leader for a 3000 community that was dissolving after the implosion of the Interex user group in 2005.

His first effort surrounded the final date of HP’s manufacture of the system. On Oct. 31, 2003, he organized and led the HP 3000 World Wide Wake, a collective of gatherings to celebrate the server and the people who’d made it their life’s work. Across North America and Europe, customers and managers held parties and met at pubs, bars, and restaurants. Photos from the events poured into a web server that Yeo hosted. Earlier in the year, Yeo asked out loud where else the HP 3000 community might gather in a user conference — a question he posed in a meeting at the Atlanta HP World, where few 3000 customers had appeared.

In the year that followed, he shared his strategy of being a master of one. It was built around the nugat of collaboration that led to his ability to connect.

"We’re starting to see more collaboration between migration tools providers and migration service partners," he said in a NewsWire Q&A. "To get some of this stuff right, you really, really need to know it. I think it’s too big for any one person to do anything right. If you want good fish you go to a fishmonger. If you want good meat, go to a butcher. If you just want food, go to Wal-Mart, and if you just want to eat, you go to McDonalds."

Community meets and reunions

Many of the stranded customers using the HP 3000 got an introduction to Yeo’s voice in those first years of the 3000’s Transition Era. He commissioned an editorial cartoon during 2002 that became a mainstay in his company’s ads, one built around the HP move to end its MPE plans and sever relations with the thousands of companies that grew up using the 3000’s extraordinary solution. The CEO of the company at the time, as well as the 3000 division’s GM Winston Prather, caught the brunt of the brilliance in a cartoon that compared killing off HP's 3000 futures to the evil in a Disney movie.

WinstonDalmations
A few years later, after the user group Interex folded its operations overnight and stranded users’ plans to meet at the now-canceled annual conference, the first of a series of Community Meets sprang up for 3000 owners. After an impromptu gathering in the Bay Area for community members already stuck with nonrefundable hotel reservations and air tickets, a single-afternoon lunch gathered several dozen managers, developers, and owners.

The first Bay Area meet was replicated and expanded twice more with single-day meetings in 2007 and 2009, organized and underwritten by Yeo and his business partner Michael Marxmeier of the database and language vendor Marxmeier Software. Other companies contributed to cover expenses, but the largest share of the organizing always went to Yeo.

In 2011, he and Marxmeier teamed up with some help from the NewsWire to mount the HP3000 Reunion, a multiple-day event with a meeting at the Computer History Museum. In addition to seminars and a group tour of the exhibits, a catered dinner, a briefing on the upcoming 3000 emulator, and a meeting of enterprise resource planning software users made for a busy weekend with dozens of community members.

Alan_Yeo_at_Reunion
Yeo was pragmatic while keeping his lights on for every software customer who’d invested in his products. Marxmeier Software has taken over support and services for ScreenJet Ltd. in the wake of Yeo’s death. ScreenJet and Marxmeier Software have had close ties for a long time. Yeo was a valued board member for Marxmeier Software and Michael Marxmeier is a director at ScreenJet.

To ensure the continuation of ScreenJet products and services, as of June 2019 support, license renewals and upgrades have been administered by Marxmeier Software. "This will not affect any ScreenJet customer product licenses or agreements which will remain with ScreenJet Ltd," said Marxmeier. "The teams at ScreenJet and Marxmeier will combine their long time experience and resources to guarantee efficient and reliable ongoing support and services."

Alan Yeo with dogsWith his beloved dogs at his Gloucester home

Ever-prepared, Yeo worked out the details of a smooth transfer over the months when his cancer recovery had failed. He'd rallied after treatments and recovered enough to race vintage cars on rural road rallies in 2018. In his last months the disease progressed to cut off motor functions of one arm. He resolutely typed long messages one-handed.

Failures were always a topic he could approach with candor as well as compassion. “Most software on the HP 3000 was too expensive, compared with other platforms,” he said in a 2004 interview examining the collapse of HP’s ecosystem. “However, because people could reliably write applications for the system, many of these were developed far too cheaply. Many customers got far too much for the money they actually spent.”

A reach for personal connections

The ScreenJet product was a recovery from a valiant effort to make the 3000 a vital part of the dot-com PC world. Millware was to deliver software that gave 3000 customers a way to make their VPlus interfaces behave like modern graphical interfaces. The software was to be free in exchange for giving over some of the screen real estate to messages from vendors. Before that user base could be established, dot-com computing staggered, a blow to the vendor element of the formula.

Yeo also picked up the pieces from the effort to market ScreenJet, developed as a connectivity product and sold by Millware.com until that marketing company went bust during the dot-com implosion. ScreenJet earned an award for migration solutions from Acucorp. But for all of his effort toward helping migration customers, Yeo was clear-eyed about 3000 transitions. ScreenJet achieved its best technical release just one month before HP announced its withdrawal from the 3000 market — and the product’s development up to that point was not driven by any need to move companies away from the platform.

Yeo also took a role as producer in a new feature for 3000 customers long abandoned by HP: Transact users. The advanced development language was kicked to HP’s curb in the middle 1990s, but sites continued to run extensive Transact applications, long after the “strategic” badge fell off the language. The TransAction software from his team give Transact sites service and tools to move programs to COBOL, a way to prepare for the journey away from the HP 3000.

Marxmeier, who reached out to break the news about Yeo's death, said he would miss his ally's organizational gifts, but even more so, Yeo's ability to write and speak with, well, eloquence. After drafting a heartfelt letter to inform the ScreenJet customers about the founders' demise, Marxmeier said he already felt a gap in the story. "It's something I would have liked Alan to read, before I released it," he said.

Yeo said he wanted no florid speeches of eulogy at his passing. Months before he died, he said if there was any afterlife at all, "I could be a little sprite, one who could occassionally make it rain on somebody who was being pompous, that would do me quite nicely." It's fair to say his narrative for the 3000's transition era was rich with the words that rained on misfortune and miscalculation.

Carly_cartoon_dalmations

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:15 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 14, 2019

How to make databases live past shutdown

Index card file drawer
Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

In 2011, a systems manager for the power utility at the City of Anchorage was looking toward a shutdown of the municipal HP 3000. It's a situation that surfaces from time to time even now. Back in 2011, the manager could see another 10 years of useful service for the 3000. His management had other ideas. This might sound familiar.

Wayne Johnson said, "We have an HP 3000 that we are going to decommission, sadly. I have powers that be who want it turned off sometime next year, although I think it will be longer than that. Is there a service that will read DLT IV tapes or convert them to some other usable format on a Windows platform or some Unix server?"

He went on to say that most of his data files were TurboImage database files. They were for archival purposes only. "Of course, the simple solution is to run the HP 3000 N-Class, probably for the next 10 years. It never goes down. But that call is not mine to make. They want to unplug it."

Alan Yeo of ScreenJet supplied a database tape migration solution that still works today.

"One very simple but elegant solution is to get a copy of Marxmeier's Eloquence database which is very inexpensive for your choice of Windows, Linux, or HP-UX and just load the databases in. Then either with the Query3K tool or with ODBC, you can just access the data as and when required.

"You could copy the volume sets to Network Attached Storage. I'll make a bet that the smallest NAS device you can buy for less than $400 will comfortably store more data than you managed to create on the HP 3000 in its lifetime.

"Allegro has a product, Rosetta Store, that will directly load Eloquence from databases in STORE format on tape, if you want to skip the step of restoring from the 3000 tapes and then unloading for import into Eloquence. I think the Allegro product will also do flat file conversion."

Beyond the Marxmeier and Allegro software, there was another suggestion offered in 2011 about a product that has come to change the way MPE databases live on beyond hardware shutdown. HP's iron, after all, isn't the final resting place for 3000 applications and data.

"Before you scrap the N-Class," said Tracy Johnson, "you may want to take note about its details. It may qualify for a license transfer to the up and coming 3000 hardware emulator by Stromasys." 

"Thus in theory, you could keep your IMAGE data running on some Intel platform, as is."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:41 AM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 15, 2019

Taking a Stab at the Size of Your World

10 000th
In 1982, 10,000 servers shipped was a milestone at HP

This month our friends at Stromasys are building a roadmap of the best prospects for their emulator. HP customers have been showing up for years. The software there will soon include a Unix PA-RISC edition of the Charon emulator, too. It's designed to bring the same kind of longer future to companies running Unix on the classic RISC systems that HP released alongside HP's 3000 iron.

Just as a note: The HP 3000 customer who's not on the final generation of Hewlett-Packard hardware can use Charon to replace Series 900 servers. We're always suprised and a little pleased when we see a Series 928 holding its own in a world where more and more servers aren't even on-premise. Cloud-based emulation is an option for replacing old 3000s, too.

Analysts might be surprised at the use of hardware a decade and more in age. The 3000 was never the biggest share of HP's computing, in terms of numbers of systems. Where the 3000 has always had the edge has been in hardware durability. That longevity has been underscored by sound design of the OS. The HP iron is expiring, leaving the operating environment as the durable asset for businesses still using it.

Again: Do not think only small companies are using MPE/iX in 2019. Stromays knows about the size of prospective emulator customers. The nature of the product's pricing suggests that significant companies have emulated the HP 3000 iron. Now an HP-UX market could mean hundreds of thousands of more systems they might emulate. Unlike a 3000, a single 9000 installation could run to dozens of servers.

Why care, as a 3000 customer? Well, the fact is that any extra connection to HP business servers, no matter what the OS, will be good for the future of Charon — and by extension, the lifespan of MPE/iX. That's PA-RISC being emulated there, regardless of the 3000 or 9000 designation.

How many PA-RISC boxes are out there to emulate? It's all educated guesses. Once upon a time, HP cared about the number enough to assemble employees outside the Roseville manufacturing facility to celebrate the first 10,000 in the photo above.

Nobody knows those numbers for certain, in truth. The size of the 3000 world has been an exercise in estimation as long as there's been MPE servers for sale. There are Gartner estimates to estimate the total HP systems sold — and of course there’s no Gartner numbers for the 3000 in those reports.

It’s been encouraging to see the effort to quantify a market like ours. The MPE market has been losing customers for two-thirds of the time we’ve been writing about it. We’re all guessing about legacy lifespans. But they can surprise us.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:17 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 08, 2019

Where to go for better 3000 census numbers

10 000Cover
Thirty-seven years, ago, HP celebrated 10,000 servers sold. PA-RISC was still five years away on the day everybody stood outside the 3000 HQ at HP.

Outsider estimates on the size of the 3000 market are going to be flawed. By outsider, I mean the ones that come from analyst companies, such as the ones that IDC prepared in the 1990s and early 2000s. Nobody can really be sure where that data came from. You can only hope they've talked to firms who were actively selling HP 3000s.

Those companies didn't have an HP address. Most of the 3000s were sold through resellers and distributors. This was a small business solution, in so many cases. Not that there aren't servers running in places the size of Boeing. But for every Bullard — makers of the iconic hardhats with three ridges — there were three or more companies like Peerless Pumps, or even a good-sized but not giant company like Disston Tools.

For the 3000, though, it was never about the numbers of servers. The tally of companies was more impressive. A Unix shop could have a few dozen HP systems, because the nature of the Unix world was to dedicate a server to each application. A single 3000 could host many apps.

In searching for better data on how big the 3000 market might be, I reached out to Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions. A 3000-focused company, Pivital sold 3000s and is among one of the freshest resellers of servers. Suraci said HP had a number which they used while describing the size of the market.

"I recall HP telling us there were 20,000 to 25,000 units in service at the end of [HP's] 3000 life," Suraci said. "That was the last time I recall hearing anything close to official."
 
Considering how hard HP sold its Unix servers against the 3000 base, it's remarkable that anything that big could show up on HP's hardware tally. HP's "end of life" could be calculated from the end of manufacturing, or even the end of support for MPE/iX. No matter where the line is drawn, that's a lot of worldwide systems to be shut down over the last nine years. Even an 80 percent shutdown rate would leave the census at 5,000 servers.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:23 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 18, 2019

Curating a Collective of MPE Advice

70and930
LinkedIn is the Facebook of business professionals. The service operates as a de facto resume repository; business people who search for jobs are often invited to use their LinkedIn profiles to provide a CV.

The service is also a collection of groups. Several are online as HP 3000 meeting spots. One is a private group that has served 3000 needs from inside HP. Nineteen members make up a group devoted to the Empire role playing game that runs on MPE and MPE/iX systems. A Connect HPE User Group Community is at LinkedIn; lots of members in there have HP experience that includes no MPE expertise.

Then there's the 677 members of the HP 3000 Community. I started it 11 years ago when LinkedIn was popular but not so essential that it was serving up resumes. We had 80 members in a few months and several hundred a few years later. The group is still growing. It's not growing as fast as some applicants to it would like, however.

LinkedIn still gives group moderators the choice to curate members of a group. The HP 3000 Community has always been a curated group. I remember a complaint a few years ago from an applicant. "He only approves people with have HP 3000 experience in their work histories." Indeed. There are a smattering of recruiters among those members, but nearly everyone on the group has worked on or with MPE.

LinkedIn gives groups a platform for publishing content, as well as forums for open discussions. There's a nice link at the top of the current feed about a Stromasys white paper, one that explains hidden costs of operating HP's MPE hardware. These are not the main feature for the HP 3000 Community, though. The 3000-L mailing list and this blog serve those needs better, but we're always glad for new content anywhere in the community. LinkedIn's group is the biggest collection of curated MPE professionals by now. If you're looking for someone who knows your environment, it's a good place to begin

And if you're not yet a member, stop by and apply. The door is always open to pros who can count upon MPE knowledge as a way in.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:21 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 28, 2019

MPE vendors walk wooded path into futures

Forest-931706_1280
The HP 3000 world has been active long enough to see death visit the floors of its forests. Death is the great leveler in a crowded forest. Trees that go down provide rich soil for their survivors to flourish in. Software, the trees in the ecosystem of MPE/iX, has been growing and declining for decades now.

The community still ripples with products for development, for management of data, and even some off the shelf applications. There's less rippling today, of course. It's the result of the operating environment's abandonment by its creators. When you tell the world as HP did more than 17 years ago, "We're leaving this market," then products begin to retreat. So does newer and younger talent.

Such a retreat was also a natural event while HP still plied its 3000 trade. A company would shift focus away from the 3000 market, like Aldon Computing did when it embraced the AS/400. In some cases, a vendor would be acquired and the products stripped out of the new owner's list. Infor has retired many a software suite for ERP, although MANMAN has survived that fate that other Infor products have endured. In one case from the earliest days of the NewsWire's sponsors, the owner died and his widow had no succession plan in place. Cosmosoft was a casualty.

A more current event will be the retirements of small and focused companies, operated by a bare handful of experts. It's good work to be serving customers of many years. At some point, though, some of the majordomo managers of software vendors will earn their retirements. A report in Bloomberg News today says that 24 percent of all people 65 and older in the US will continue to work in 2019. Some of them will be software vendors and programmers. A lot fewer, though, than the food service or retail workers in that age group. Check the age of the experts at Home Depot if you disagree.

When a software vendor retires, without much prospect for selling its products to another software company, something's got to be done for the customers using the products. In the past this has been managed with a donation of some kind to a vendor who's friendly enough to keep answering the phones or emails on support issues. Sometimes a product can move into a free status — it's happened in the job scheduling segment, for example.

Expect to see more of this as the market matures. Make a plan, if you're one of the Double Digit MPE managers headed beyond 2027, to see what your software providers have in place. Lots of the software vendors who know MPE/iX are using a workforce in their 60s. A retirement of a key technical resource can trigger new plans for the product's future. Stay in front of this development. These engineers of enterprise are aging. Some can afford to park their products.

This aging of the 3000 marketplace has been the genuine current carrying companies toward migrations. Nothing was permanently wrong with MPE tech when HP pulled out of its futures. The years that have elapsed since then have done nothing to turn back the hands of time. Everything ages. The wetware of the wizards is not replicated easily.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:31 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 14, 2019

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

Start-finish-banners
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.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:14 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 31, 2018

Date upgrade deadline: now in single digits

Countdown-9
When MPE/iX systems, both virtual and physical, see their clocks tick over tonight at midnight, it will be a significant date. The end of Dec. 31 puts MPE/iX, as crafted by its creators — into single digits for years remaining. Nine is tomorrow's number.

Whether that's nine years until end of life depends on your IT plans. If like more than a few managers you're retiring clean -- with configurations in place to survive into 2028 — the nine years will show you're prepared. You've made your changes to work around the loss of accurate MPE/iX date keeping. At least one vendor is taking orders for this service.

Others, meanwhile, are doing the work and leaving the credit to others. Stromasys has a lot at stake in the 3000 market to make 2028 a year of smooth pavement. We've gotten word they're ready with a software solution to carry MPE/iX beyond HP's wildest visions.

For the IT manager who's retiring without a 2028 plan — and leaving Dec. 31, 2027 as a shutdown date — tomorrow is the start of the final nine years for that HP 3000. It goes without saying these managers have no current interest in the Charon virtualizer for HP's MPE/iX iron.

Everything ends sometime. 2018 wraps up this evening. Lau Tao wrote in another century, "New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings." May your year to come be a new beginning without such pain. We'll see you in a future where options are still emerging for a suprising decade-plus to come. Some 3000 managers will be joining the march toward a Double-Digit Future for MPE/iX.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:09 AM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 17, 2018

What to say back to "Your system sucks."

Rolling-stones
There are still moments out there waiting for the homesteading 3000 manager. The ones where someone in IT who's pretty sure they know better about systems says something like "MPE sucks." Or anything equally glib, dressed up little to hide the ignorance.
 
"MPE sucks" is something like "the Stones were hacks." It’s a matter of taste and what you know. There’s too much legacy software out there doing production work to dismiss anything out of hand. I find that the more technical the IT administrator, the more they seem to like the clean choices, those with shorter pedigrees and clearer parentage. MPE/iX, being in its late 40's of existence, feels like it's just too out of date.
 
If that were true, then a company like Stromasys would have failed at selling an emulator into the MPE/iX marketplace. Charon is working and moving data where it needs to go.
 
I’ve talked for thousands of hours to people who cut code and build application suites. The dance between developer, administrator-CIO, and end user is interesting and frustrating. Using something older is not an ignorant move. What sucks, if anything, is a tunnel vision about the best tool to preserve a company's investment.
 
I've read the following in the last 24 hours, shared by a vendor who really needs you to see that cloud IT is your next best future.
The person in charge of the software isn’t generally involved in the day to day. The only thing they know is that the job is getting done, and “If it ain’t broke, don’t ax it.” They’re too removed to realize that it is broken, and there’s no one questioning them about whether something could be done 20 percent faster or 10 times easier.

Neither of these stakeholders is in a position where they can see the problems. What
they need is a different perspective.

When a different perspective can respect the investment in MPE/iX, and acknowlege how much less faster or easier an alternative is once you factor in the cost of change — then it might be time to talk futures and alternatives
 
People like the tools that they like. I don’t try to win the PC vs Mac debates anymore. It does annoy me to see a tech expert dismiss something. I have a friend who loves Android and slams iOS, who uses Linux and hoots at Windows. For him, the ability to flip a million software switches and manage his own filesystem is the smartest way to go. The 3000 marketplace started to see this when SAP crept in to try to replace MPE/iX. That's why Kenandy has been able to stand in at a few 3000 sites. Its switches are already set in positions that let work get done.
 
Advocates of the more complex choices usually don’t understand how smart they are in relation to everybody else. I encountered this in our editorial business just a few days ago.
A colleague who's a website developer belted out that "Wordpress sucks" stink bomb. To veer into the weeds on editorial and author websites, I'm one of the many who use Wordpress to manage content — blog entries, pages for books or services, and more. Wordpress is classic and yet evolving, and it's everywhere. Some might think of it like a legacy choice. The alternatives for content management are harder to customize. Joomla is that's colleague's favorite. For me, it was the bad, beautiful girlfriend who never felt safe.
 
I tried to make Joomla work for more than three years, but it was impenetrable. Some of that was probably my build-out of its theme, some my unfamiliarity with Joomla (I know WordPress dashboards and plug-ins much better.) I didn’t cut code. I made content and thought up business practices.
 
Keeping a website in clean enough shape to remain useful is not automatic, not in 2018. 
 
It didn’t get better once the Joomla site for the Writer's Workshop got injected with malware scripts. Twice. I changed hosting and got an intermediate firewall company (SiteLock, $60 monthly) to make the security problems go away. 
 
Like an MPE/iX customer who's finding problems with hardware, I had to get my resource chain in order. My new host auto-updates my WordPress (and believe me, I know people are trying to hack into WordPress. It’s everywhere, like Windows) and my new webmaster wants to secure my site as much as I do.
 
Insisting on control and customization — like the MPE/iX customers must, because they're supporting decades of data — makes things stickier. My challenge with website user experience is I learned publishing in the paper era. We controlled every user experience because the medium was the same everywhere. Losing control, and giving myself over the the dynamic nature of web, still annoys me. Three different sizes of smartphones, and two mobile operating systems, plus the vagueries of browsers, alters everyone's the experience.
 
Don't let anybody tell you your legacy choices suck. IT can sing from more than one set of chords.
 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:58 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2018

One Alternative to $1 Million of 3000 Costs

Charon Portfolio
In a webinar this week, Stromasys made its case for how shutting down HP's 3000 hardware can reduce an IT budget. Using data from Gartner analysts and other sources, the company estimates that downtime costs companies $1 million per year on average. Any alternative to 15- to 25-year-old servers is a good shot at making the future more stable.

There still hasn't been a computer system built that will never fail. Hot-swap backups with automatic server failovers were never a big part of the 3000 datacenter experience. If you had to handicap which server was a likely failure candidate, HP's MPE/iX hardware would give you short odds of failure. In this case, short is not a good measure.

One million per year in losses is a big enough number to get the attention of a corporation's C-level. It's the same number, coincidentally, that Stromasys used this week to describe the costs of migrating MPE/iX apps. The text circled in the slide above "implies investments of $1 million+" for migrations.

These millions, lost through downtime or surrendered in datacenter budget, are averages. Smaller 3000 customers may not approach the $1 million in yearly lost revenues. Migration costs track closer to that number, but they're a one-time hit. The alternative is Charon, of course. During the webinar we learned that an additional HP market is coming online to use Charon. HP's Unix PA-RISC servers will be the latest Stromasys virtualization segment, according to Dave Campbell.

There's no specific release date for Charon's HPA-9000 version yet. Such a product has been hinted at for a long time and rumored to be in development more recently. Stromasys needs the cooperation of the system manufacturers — HP and Oracle, to be exact — to bring out a virtualization of the old vendor hardware.

The news of a new virtualization marketplace tells us that replacing aging hardware with virtualized systems running on modern iron is a growing business. It may not even be growing as fast as it could. One customer on the webinar asked about IBM AS400 (Series i) virtualization. Campbell noted that the vendor's participation is essential to making another edition of Charon.

IBM may not be ready to help AS400 users for some time. Their POWER-based iron is still being built and sold. The only hardware still being built to support MPE/iX today is Intel x86-based, the platform for the Linux+Charon solutions. There can be millions of reasons why newer hardware plus the cost of Charon software would leave a customer miles away from failures. Charon isn't inexpensive, but when compared to $1 million for an MPE/iX user, it may feel like a better choice for a legacy budget.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:13 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 03, 2018

HP 3000 dream tracks close to virtualization

Railroad switches
An HP 9000 HP-UX virtualization product is in development. In that kind of design, a single Intel server with enough computing power (concurrent threads) could host both HP 3000 and HP 9000 virtualizations. HP had the same objective almost 20 years ago for its largest enterprise platforms.

Early in 1999 HP's Harry Sterling spoke at an all-day user meeting in the UK hosted by Riva Systems. Sterling, who'd retire before the end of that year, said a multi-OS server was within HP's vision for the 3000 and 9000 customers.

Sterling’s mentioned the possibility of running MPE, NT and Unix concurrently on the HP 3000 "sometime in the future." There was even the possibility of a “hot-swap” version of MPE alongside the production system. John Dunlop reported for us at the time.

The passing mention indicated that separate processors in one box would be able to run different operating systems. Sterling did suggest that a hot-swap version of MPE might be a valid use, so that there would be some redundancy with the live operating system.

This seemed to lead to the subject of more uptime. From these comments, it’s possible that HP is looking at allowing online changes to a hot-swap system and then just switching it over to achieve the so-called “magic weekend.” This is a system upgrade that occurs seamlessly and transparently to both the users and management.

That would be a dream not realized. Hot-swap didn't make it any further into the customer base than architect discussions. Sterling noted that in 1997 customers expressed concern about the future of the 3000. To counter that feeling and give the customers more confidence, he outlined in 1999 a five-year roadmap for the 3000.

Marketing was on board as well in that year that led to Y2K. It would take another 13 years before a multiple OS host for MPE/iX would emerge.

Marketing Manager Christine Martino told that crowd about HP’s commitment to the 3000 by hiring more MPE engineers and setting up of new centers of expertise. There was also to be a higher investment in training and education. Finally, she stated that HP was running over 650 HP 3000s to power core Hewlett-Packard corporation business applications.

By now it's going to be 20 years on to the promised land of one host for Unix and MPE. A big enough Intel server — and it might well be one that will evoke enterprise iron costs — could do what Sterling proposed before he retired. All it took was the cooperation of HP's engineers to release internals to emulate PA-RISC systems for Unix and MPE/iX. Those are legacy systems by today, but at least there's an independent software vendor to make the twin-OS dream a possibility.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:28 PM in History, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 05, 2018

Shifting Data Off the 3000, Easily

NewsWire Classic

By Roy Brown

Tool-beltWhether you are migrating data, or just wanting to present it in a more portable format, be aware of how you can manipulate it using those all-pervasive Microsoft tools. When your consulting role takes you across a wide range of HP 3000 sites, you rapidly learn that not everybody has all the add-on tools you might like to see – Qedit, MPEX, Adager, Suprtool, and so on. You can rely on what’s in FOS, but there are a bunch of things you are brought up short by, that are not so easy without the armory above.

So, when I needed to extract and massage data from a bare or nearly bare HP 3000, I pretty soon learned to rely on what I could bring to bear from my laptop, equipped with Reflection and the MS Office suite.

Actually, the product I really missed isn’t one I listed above – it’s MBF-UDALink, from MB Foster. Perhaps because I’ve never quite mastered its rather quirky interface, I find it’s often easier to rewrite a query than to modify one. But they are so quick to write that it really doesn’t matter – especially for multi-set, multi-key extracts.

And as it can make your data extract, put it in the format of your choice, and transfer it to your PC via your termulator, all in one go, it lets you skip a whole bunch of what I describe below; stuff you need to do only if all you have is FOS in this area.

Extraction

Mostly, when grabbing stuff on an ad-hoc basis, I like to list it out in Query, and watch it scroll by in Reflection, with logging to a PC file turned on. I know that I could file equate the output to QSLIST with DEV=DISC, make a file and copy it that way, if I wanted. But this way, I get to see problems as it runs. And if it runs okay, it’s already on the PC for me.

I use Query because it’s always there. I figure I don’t need to do a Query tutorial here – though you can email me at [email protected] if you’d like a copy of one – but suffice to say that you can usually walk the paths you need, and pick up the data you want. I generally set LINES=0 or NOPAGE, and I pay attention to numeric field formatting with Edit masks where needed, but I only output Detail lines. Dates I leave in CCYYMMDD format, just as they come. And I don’t need to do any math – I can save that until I’m in Office.

But I do hit the 80-character line limit, which is where the first neat WinWord trick kicks in. I use multiple lines, and I mark the end of each line except the last with a string like ### - something that I know won’t ever occur naturally in the data – ending at position 80.

Formatting in WinWord, Part 1

Then I use WinWord to open the .txt file that Reflection has built for me on the PC, and Edit/Replace to change ###^p to one space throughout. Bingo! One long line per returned entry.

How does this work? Well, ^p (caret p) is WinWord’s code for a paragraph mark, which is how each line in the data is terminated. So I’m saying “Find each line ending in ###, and chop off not just these characters, but also the line ending itself. And then put a space in, to make sure that doesn’t cause two fields to run together.”

If you open Edit/Replace, choose the More tab and then the Special tab, you will be able to see the list of formatting characters you can search for and replace. Paragraph Mark is at the top, and right below it is Tab Character; click this, and you’ll see caret-t appear in the ‘Find what:’ window. There are 20 options there in all, but ^p and ^t cover pretty much 99% of what I need to do.

I top and tail my output file to remove the original query lines, and the >end at the end. Sometimes, I might then sort it, with Table/Sort and the default options there, to get the detail records in order. But generally, WinWord’s sort runs out of steam with a file that is more than a few megabytes, so I wait until I’m in Excel.

So I Save As on the WinWord file, taking care to keep it as a .txt file, and ignoring WinWord’s warnings about ‘losing formatting’ if I do. WinWord’s formatting is exactly what I don’t need; .txt is the most versatile format for use here.

This excursion into WinWord has really just been to de-block the detail lines, a task which is straightforward here, but nigh-on impossible in Excel. But we’ll find, in turn, that there are things which Excel can easily do for us, while in WinWord they would be nigh-on impossible.

Formatting in Excel

Next, I open up Excel, and File/Open my .txt file, setting ‘Files of type’ to All Files so I can see it. Excel comes up with its Text Import Wizard, a most powerful tool that lets me break my file up into individual fields.

The option to use here is Fixed Width, and Excel guesses where the field breaks are. It usually does this very well, providing the fields have spaces between them. But if not, I can add, remove or move the suggested breaks.

Moving on with Next, I can set the format for each field. Again it usually guesses these right, except for those CCYYMMDD dates. But for those, I just choose Date format, and the YMD option, and it will convert them to Excel dates. On completing the Wizard, I have my data, field by field, neatly arranged in Excel columns.

By the way, I could have just Copied from my WinWord file, and Pasted into Column A of the Excel sheet, and then split that. The wizard is available under Data/Text to Columns, for just that purpose.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:17 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 01, 2018

Where have all the migrations gone?

Wilted rosesIs the bloom finally off the rose for migrations away from MPE/iX? I had lunch today with a support provider for third party maintenance who sees a lot of activity in the 3000 market. He said that as far as he can see — and of course nobody can see everywhere — the HP 3000 migration activity is pretty much done.

Nobody has complete visuals on the full marketplace. It can be difficult to know much about migration projects in progress. So if 3000 migration is done, maybe what that really means is that all of the migrations have been started by now. For example, I wrote about a company last month whose 3000 expert says they’ve been migrating for awhile. The project is supposed to be over by the end of the year. Then this 3000 veteran of many years added, “but you know how that goes.”

Like lots of 3000 experts, that IT pro is retiring from his company. At year's end he'll be leaving behind a 3000 app that’s working. Whoever’s got the job of getting that replacement app online will have to finish it in 2019 without as much MPE expertise on staff. I'm guessing that even retired, the expert will be able to bill for some consulting. "You know how that goes" usually means there's some unresolved issues, like there are in every migration. You never know what you've done well in a migration until you get to the testing phase. Birket Foster used to say that testing was at least 30 percent of the workload in a migration.

Once a migration team's testing gets serious, knowing the MPE app and the 3000 technical infrastructure can show off its benefits. It might even be like the way COBOL skills got valuable in the years leading up to Y2K. Getting that kind of independent expertise into the contract-procurement market can be the big hurdle for 3000 veterans. Lots of great 3000 experience has worked inside a company. Being for-hire is a different gig.

Migrations can be pretty secret. Some datacenter managers don’t want to talk about having a genuine legacy app (what, you use MPE?) still serving in production. Other 3000 managers don’t have control of the migrations their company is doing. Therefore, little knowledge they might share with 3000 friends (or writers). That migration might be done by the supplier of the new app, or the Platform as a Service (PaSS, or what they like to call cloud) such as a Salesforce reseller.

Finally, there's the IT management that's going on at the C-level by now. The guardians of the datacenter are sometimes not connected to the 3000 at all. The CFO just wants an outside company to take that putty-colored HP server box out of the shop, because nobody knows enough about it anymore. That's the circumstance where outside migration services can help. You've got to find those CFOs, though. A list of former 3000 sites might help. Someone just offered us one—but it was from 1988. There are dead people on that list.

Just because it's hard to see 3000 migrations doesn't mean they're not there. You can say the same thing about spirits and faeries and even some religious powers. If you're hoping for migrations to appear, it doesn't hurt to believe. Get your shingle out there and explore. Verradyne is a collective of experts who've done 3000 migrations.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:18 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 28, 2018

The Migration Dilemma

3000-migration-penguins
This article first ran in the opening month of the 3000's migration era. For the companies still working through a migration, most of the issues remain in play. More to the point for the homesteading 3000 site: These are high-level reasons why a migration isn't on the horizon.

Newswire Classic

By Curtis Stordahl

Well, the other shoe has dropped. Hewlett-Packard has given their HP 3000 customer base just five years to migrate to another platform. This is a daunting task that is full of risk.

The biggest migration risk factor is probably that the complexity of the applications on the HP 3000 may have been severely underestimated. These applications can be over 20 years old, and some have had scores of programmers continuously evolving the original application without any supporting documentation. Consequently, it is possible that nobody knows just how big and complex these applications are. Many migration projects are also led by personnel with no experience on the HP 3000 platform, who have a perception of it being something like an old dBase application on an IBM PC.

Many organizations will be lured by the “flavor of the month” technology and want to completely redevelop their HP 3000 applications accordingly. This is also full of hidden risks.

A major redevelopment is going to essentially have three project teams. The first project team is going to be responsible for the development of the new application. This team faces multiple risks: of underestimating the complexity of the legacy application they are replacing; or of completing the development only to find it does not meet the minimum requirements and cannot be implemented without extensive rework.

At that point, the team could then find it impossible to obtain the resources needed to complete the project. The technology they choose may not meet expectations and so will not satisfy the minimum requirements. If you go outside your organization for new application development, the vendor you contract to do the work could go bust.

A second project team needs to migrate the data to the new platform. A radical change in design could make this difficult if not impossible.

A third project team needs to provide ongoing support to the legacy application. A major redevelopment could be years in the making, and you can’t stop the business from evolving during that time. This introduces additional risk into both the development and migration project teams because they must aim at a moving target.

There is an overall risk that a migration project could fail, leaving you with no additional funding or time to recover from the failure.

Packaged app migration

Many organizations will be lured by the promises of packaged software vendors. A package reduces migration risk. But this isn’t like just plugging in a new e-mail package.

The biggest risk factor is going to be implementation. Instead of building an application to conform to your business, you must make now make your business conform to the application. Managers outside the IT organization must buy into this and revise policy and procedures accordingly. So much is needed outside the IT organization to make it work that it must be managed from the executive level. If there is insufficient commitment at the executive level, then the project is destined to fail.

Training users is another risk factor. If you train too early you risk losing them through attrition before you implement. If you train too late, they may not be able to retain and understand what is expected of them.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:20 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 26, 2018

Why and When to Leave Platform-Land

Goodbye Tin Man
Life in the 3000 community revolved around platforms. We used to think about these as operating systems. Long ago it was time to change that thinking and call the combo of servers and the OS a platform. You could think of that era as the Land of Oz, instead of OS. It might be time for 3000 owners to change their thinking about computers as platforms. It depends on what else is doing service in your datacenter.

For a small percentage of 3000 owners, the servers built by HP are all that runs in what we once called the computer room. They live in what one storage vendor, one who knows the 3000 well, calls platform-land. Everything in platform-land is connected to a 3000, so the homogenous benefits of multi-server storage just aren't needed.

Companies that live fully in platform-land are using HP-branded devices built exclusively for the 3000. That's the way HP used to qualify its peripherals: tested for MPE/iX. For a while during the years after HP's "we're outta here" announcement, the vendor asserted that any other storage device was risky business. We covered those debates. The results showed the risks were not substantial.

HP's outta-here movement caused movement in the 3000 community, of course. Some of the movement was inbound instead of an exodus. Companies have turned to using Linux servers, more Windows Servers (2008 and later) and even some Unix boxes from HP, Sun, or IBM. That's the moment when a company starts to leave platform-land. You should leave it once you've got multiple OS servers and need to leverage networks and peripherals across all servers. That's the When.

The Why is a little more complicated. 3000s and the Stromasys servers that have replaced the MPE/iX hosts are cradles for the applications that companies don't want to drop. The companies shouldn't drop an application just because it's on the wrong platform. Applications need to exit when they don't serve the business logic anymore. Leaving platform-land supports the continued service from MPE/iX apps. Like I said, it's complicated.

What we know about managing IT in the year 2018 is that it's complex in a way we couldn't imagine in the 1980s and 1990s. The diversity of devices is what's changed the community for good. Even HP began to understand that a multiple-platform storage device was a better value to anyone who didn't live in platform-land.

For almost all of the HP 3000 customers left today, their server isn't the only box in the shop. They have added Windows, Linux and Unix, yes. More often, those operating systems aren't part of the decision loop. We always said that it was the applications, stupid, when deciding what computer was going to get the assignment. The 3000 survives because of its apps, but its survival is beset by more than the calendar pages slipping away. The differences in connected devices chip away at the 3000's rightful place. 

Oh. Not only do we have to try to retain MPE/iX expertise, we also have to keep that Jamaica disk set running. A set that does nothing else for everything else in the datacenter. When it fails, we have to find a replacement for that device with moving components. An old replacement, at that. If we'd made the 3000 ready for a platform-agnostic environment, so it could use modern storage like the later-generation XP arrays, we could justify a replacement and get something newer.

Now the 3000 goes onto the bubble again. The most-quoted reason for companies to scrap their MPE environments, their platform, is because of aging hardware and the worry over replacing it. Peripherals like storage and tape now have their own worry points, according to support companies serving 3000s. Tape is a crapshoot. People have been warning about old disks for a long time.

The Why to leave platform-land is all about the future. When a datacenter is no longer thinking about 3000-only hardware -- when that hardware can be commodity high-class Intel servers or an array that's beyond the reach of platform-land -- the apps can stay off the bubble. The need to migrate recedes, so long as there's expertise about MPE/iX somewhere.

MPE know-how isn't automatic anymore, but there are support companies that specialize in it. The future of self-maintaining that know-how isn't bright. Indie companies can help, and at least the devices need to be useful to all hardware. Until that's done, being stuck in platform-land is just one more way to hurry to an exit from everything still working from the 3000 world, built and configured in the era when platforms were like the heroes from Oz. We'll miss you most, Tin Man.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:06 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 24, 2018

Data migration integrity can be in the garage

RulesoftheGarage
In the world of book publishing, a customer with a legacy of using HP 3000s is pushing users through a migration. The Nielsen name has long been associated with TV ratings, but that former HP 3000 customer tracks so much more. This month the book sales service BookScan is getting a migration to a new system. The old system was called Nielsen and the new one is NPD's Decison Key. The transfer is expected to have its bumps. Some might have impact who's on this year's bestseller lists.

Publisher's Marketplace reports, "BookScan will complete its transition from the old Nielsen platform to the NPD system and at outset, the biggest adjustment for users may be getting accustomed to system updates on a different day of the week. "

As the story unfolds there's more changes expected. NPD Books president Jonathan Stolper is predicting high integrity. "We're going to get it right," he said in a Publisher's Marketplace article. The Marketplace resells Nielsen data to authors, publishers and booksellers—so the forecast would of course be bright. Many data migrations have had this forecast.

But the data on this Nielsen system, some of which goes back to the HP 3000 era there, has deep roots. From the Marketplace report:

We're talking about millions of titles, a system that goes back to 2004 in detail. There is a ton of data within this system. So it's only natural that there's probably going to be some – I don't want to call them hiccups, but some variances. Whenever you switch systems, there's some slight variance. People are going to have to realize that it's not an absolute match."

Then comes the upshot of the migration. Some books are going to "sell" better than others, depending on the data integrity for this year's sales.

The switchover will increase sales because the newer data collection system reaches into more points of sale. Gift shops and museum stores, for example, are in the new mix.

Those variances mean that some titles will see increased sales for 2018 in the new platform versus legacy BookScan, due to the broader information enabled by NPD, which collects retail point-of-sale data in broad fashion across many industries.

Data migration has been the heartland at MB Foster for the last three decades. Last week the company that made database interfaces for HP 3000s in ODBC/SE hosted a webinar on a concept called the Migration Garage. "A garage can be set up to deal with the end-to-end requirement, the staffing required to make the garage a success, and where the savings come from when a garage process is defined."

It took two years for the BookScan tracking system to migrate to the NPD platform. The NPD system, called Decision Key, will become the data of record for BookScan. The number of titles that have been printed with the word "Bestseller" on the cover probably hasn't been tracked. It's a powerful marketing term, though.

MB Foster's concept of a Migration Garage "is useful when there are a number of applications with the same requirements or that have a common set of data that is changing and similar changes have to be made to each application as it is transformed to its new environment."

Publishing is an industry that often clings to legacy practices, like paying published authors their royalties just twice a year. (Something about needing to count the returned books before the checks for the writers go to the agents, who send the money to the authors.) Nielsen is moving its data to a new vehicle this fall. Just as in every migration, the numbers will speak for themselves.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:36 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 17, 2018

Planning to migrate has been the easy mile

Postman3000 owners have made plans for many years to leave the platform. The strategies do take a considerable while to evolve into tactics, though. The planning stage is easy to get stopped at, like an elevator jammed up at a floor. 

For example, take a company like the one in the deep South, using HP 3000s and manufacturing copper wire and cable. The manager would rather not name his employer and so we won't, but we can say the 3000 is dug in and has been difficult to mothball.

In fact, the only immediate replacement at this corporation might be its storage devices. The datacenter employs a VA7410 array.

We do have to replace a drive now and then, but there hasn't been any problem getting used replacements, and we haven't suffered any data loss. I think if we were planning to stay with MPE for the long term, we might look for something newer, but we are planning to migrate. In fact we planned to be on a new platform by now, but you know how that goes.

More companies than you'd imagine know how that goes in 2018. We're nearing the end of the second decade of what we once called the Transition Era. The final mile of that journey can be the slowest, like the path of the postman who must carry the mail on foot through urban neighborthoods.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:25 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 27, 2018

Where to go when the app vendor is gone

Nature-2806211_1920
The cozy corner of your world that's the HP 3000 Community on LinkedIn has many reports about where users are working. One story that's slid onto our desk from that community illustrates the work a 3000 owner faces when a software vendor leaves them behind. For many sites with few resources, this is the situation that triggers a migration.

This is a story of what happens when the Hewlett-Packard hardware outlasts vendor applications. It's not that the app has stopped working, not at all. But the manager of the 3000 knows his employer has limited time to plan for a future while using software that can't be modified, because there's no source code — and not much documentation, even though the software's been customized.

3000s stay in service long enough to get to the point where the most durable piece of the solution is MPE/iX. Hardware can die off and be replaced by Charon from Stromasys. Expertise can be hired on contract for administration and operations. Development, though, is the hardest asset to maintain. When expertise dwindles for a third party piece of software — in this case, the IBS/3000 (Integrated Business System) financials package from DeCarlo, Paternite and Associates — a migration is usually in order.

The 3000 manager said he came on board at the company and learned about IBS being a key business component. "I Googled it to see if there was a user forum, vendor site, or any information. All I found was Irritable Bowel Syndrome."

Even if there was still vendor support available, it would be of limited use because there are so many in-house modifications and enhancements. The app has served us well, but is not sustainable for the long term.

He reports that the migration project will have to survive bad decisions, woefully inadequate management support, bad consultants, and a lack of expertise. "New leadership is in place with more realistic expectations. I hope we can hit a 2019 target." This manager of an A500 system is counting down to an end of 2018 retirement — and doing his best to ensure the system can outlast him.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:40 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 13, 2018

Licensed MPE source solves OS mysteries

Rathbone-holmesIn early 2028 I’ll be 70, and some MPE/iX apps could be 40 years old. I can hope retirement is in my rangefinder by then, but at the moment it looks like I’ll be writing until I can’t make sentences anymore. (Gotta remember, first noun, then verb.)

Well before that year, though, the roadblock of 3000-MPE date handling will be cleared. The companies most likely to have a comprehensive workaround are the ones which have licensed MPE/iX source. Or, the companies which are allied with the source licensees. Fixing the use of the CALENDAR intrinsic doesn't need to be a source-level repair. Having source access, though, only makes the fix more robust.

The 3000 owners and managers are all about robust. That's why they're still making use of a computer the vendor hasn't sold since 2003. Many of the companies who don't self-maintain are relying on support services now working more than seven years since HP left that support business, too.

The established independent support companies will be glad to collect money for building a 2028 solution, customer-by-customer. They should be paid. There are some IT managers out there in the 3000 world who see leaving their existing systems in a future-proof state, software-wise, as part of their job whenever they get to retire. Those are the real Boy Scouts, I’d say. On the other hand, you will hear arguments they’re not doing their jobs by leaving their companies running MPE/iX, even today.

The heart wants what it wants, though. If a company hasn't got heart for a migration right now, then the adminstrative work to be done is preparing for a forever journey for MPE/iX. Or at least until I'm 80, when the Unix 2038 roadblock appears.

Nobody should be building a 2028 fix unless they’re going to be paid. This issue is important to the Stromasys customer base. Not all: some Charon 3000 emulator installations are holding a place for a migration that's underway.

The community's elders care about the future. So long as the old managers can get a new expenditure approved, the game's afoot, as Sherlock Holmes would say.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:13 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 08, 2018

Wayback: Linux re-enters the 3000's world

Penguin-shorelineThe Newswire's articles can sometimes be evergreen, even in the hottest months of the year. This week we got an email about a 2001 article that introduced Linux to our readers. A companion to the article from 17 years ago, A Beginners Guide to Linux, includes one outdated link, along with timeless advice.

Linux was already a juggernaut on corporate IT whiteboards and it had a strong following in the field, too. Shawn Gordon wrote a pair of columns about Linux as a 101 course for 3000 experts. The first article was published in the first weeks after HP's exit announcement about the 3000 business. Gordon, who founded a software company built around Linux applications, connected the dots.

To be honest, you can go another seven years quite easily with your existing 3000 system, which is a long time for a system these days. But if you were looking for a change anyway, now is the time. So what does this all have to do with Linux?

Linux seems to be the great equalizer. It runs on watches, set-top boxes, PDAs, Intel chips, PowerPC chips in Macs and IBM systems, Itanium chips, IBM mainframes — the list goes on and on. IBM and HP both are moving their customers towards it, and IBM has done some fantastic work helping Linux on scalability.

In our HP 3000 space we mostly know the players and we are comfortable where we are. Jumping over to Linux required that I learn a lot about things I never cared about before — like the GPL, GNU, Linux, RMS, ESR, and other things that I will explain in a bit. One of the bits that has been floating around a lot on the various 3000 discussion lists is Linux.

The update for the two-part article comes from a company that has a free Linux education website. Alex Nordeen, Editor of Guru99.com, hopes to get your web visits.

The tutorial is for an "absolute beginner's guide to Linux. You don't even have to buy a new PC to learn Linux. You can run Linux, right within your existing Windows or Mac OS systems! (Detailed steps are given in tutorials)."

Nordeen says of the second part of the article series, "In one article, you mentioned and linked to www.tuxedo.org/~esr. However, that site has been pulled out. And it's unclear that the page is going to be available again."

We recently created tutorials on Linux that took 190+ hours to create with beautifully annotated screenshots and videos. They are very comprehensive.

The tutorials are created by a Google veteran and I have personally edited them. The course covers

• Linux Basics like Introduction, Linux Distributions and Installation, Commands, and File Permissions.
• Redirection, Regular Expressions, Commands, and Communication in Linux.
• We also touch on advanced topics like Environment Variables, Managing Processes, VI Editor, Shell Scripting, Virtual Terminal, and Linux Administration.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:05 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 30, 2018

Ways to make SFTP serve to a 3000 system

Waiter-serviceEarlier this month a seasoned veteran of 3000 development asked how he could get SFTP service supported for his system. He's been managing a 3000 that's been ordered to employ file transfers that are more secure than FTP.

Secure FTP works well enough outbound, thanks to the OpenSSL software ported to the 3000 in WebWise. But incoming SFTP is tougher. Some say it's not possible, but that answer doesn't include any potential for a proxy server. Or a virtualized 3000.

Versions of OpenSSL that were ported to run on native MPE probably won’t satisfy an audit, nor do they have some of the current crypto capabilities that would satisfy things like PCI requirements. There are no developers signed up to continue the OpenSSL port project.

That leaves the proxy solution.

In this solution, a manager would set up a Linux SFTP server with two NICs. NIC 1 goes to the outside world. NIC 2 is a crossover to the HP 3000. From the HP 3000, SFTP to the Linux server via NIC 2.
 
In another scenario, you can FTP between the HP 3000 and a Linux virtual machine. One developer said that on the Linux VM "we have a small application that talks to the HP 3000 via FTP and forwards to and from other machines via SFTP or SSH." He added that the app on the Linux system is written in Java.
 
Migration often includes this kind of expertise. Charles Finley, a veteran of HP 3000 matters since the 1980s, recently raised his hand to offer notes on using an SSH tunnel. "It does not involve coding, the use of libraries and—although you can do it with Linux—does not necessarily involve Linux." He drew a link to an example employing a Windows host, adding that "we use Linux or Windows for this type of thing. Here's a description of how connect to an FTP/SFTP server which can be accessed via another server only, using PuTTY, "something we make use of a lot," Finley said.
 
There's also a simple way to use SFTP by employing Stromasys Charon. Other servers can SFTP to a Linux partition. Charon is hosted under Linux as it emulates the 3000 hardware. This hosted MPE server can then pick the files up internally.
Mark Klein, who bootstrapped the original GNU library for the 3000 that made all of its open source tools possible, says a requirement for the security of encryption could be satisfied with a secure link, rather than secure protocol.
See if you can negotiate with the auditors for an encrypted link instead of an encrypted protocol (tell them that the protocols on the 3000 itself can’t do what they are asking and suggest the alternative). Tell them that the SSL on the 3000 is older than 1.0.x and still won’t pass audit, even if you could make SFTP work.
 
These days, everything less than TLS1.1 is unacceptable.  The OpenSSL on the 3K can’t support that. I’m afraid you might get the SFTP requirement resolved only to then fail on the lack of TLS or the newer ciphers.  

It would be easier to leave the existing processes in place (they work) rather than exchange them for something that is unknown and then wrap that with accepted encryption. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:28 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2018

July's IA-64 news, delivered by the Sandman

IA-64 Sequel t-shirt copy
Twenty years ago this month the 3000 community got its biggest assurance of a long future. The system's lab manager said that the IA-64 architecture would be fully supported in future 3000 models. New compilers would be built for a new MPE/iX. Channel partners and resellers got the news from the labs two months earlier at a swell retreat.

The man delivering the news for that July article is a familiar name with 3000 customers. He was Winston Prather, head of R&D at the time—and three years later, the person who decided the 3000 community didn't need the computer. A weak ecosystem was supposedly the reason Prather could be the Sandman and help put HP's MPE/iX business to sleep.

Three summers earlier, all the news we could report in the NewsWire was good. 

"The 3000 customers who experienced the move from Classic to MPE/XL know exactly what they’ll be looking at as they move forward,” Prather said. “One thing that makes me feel good about it is that it’s something we’ve done before. I think we pulled it off pretty successfully, and we learned quite a bit. We’ll use some of the same learning and techniques as we move to the new architecture."

Prather said that by early in the 2000s, 3000 customers would be able to buy and use an operating system to run with both PA-RISC and IA-64 processors,  "Customers who need the additional performance of IA-64 will then be able to buy IA-64 processor boards to plug into HP 3000 processor slots on the new systems." It was an audacious design. HP bragged of the bold move.

“Prior to the IA-64 boards or chips," Prather said, "there will be complete new boxes available at the high end and the midrange, and then potentially at the low end.” The new 3000s would use new IO systems, giving customers a way to step into new hardware technology incrementally. The IO arrived, late out of those labs, in the form of new PCI bus architecture. IA-64 on MPE was put to sleep.

Watching the whiplash as HP first promised a future, pre-Y2K, then took away the hope of 3000 site, in 2001, baffled a lot of us. The system deserved a big tech investment. Then it didn't.

The 1998 IA-64 report sounded very real, much more so than the announcement from Prather's 3000 leadership in late 2001. HP's MPE futures were going dark. In 1998 there was even an admission that some "forking" of the operating system — a la MPE V and MPE XL — would have to take place.

Although CSY is working to delay it, a time will come in the next decade when there will be two versions of MPE/iX, one for the PA-RISC systems and one for the IA-64 boxes. Customers work in such an environment today if they support Classic (CISC) HP 3000s running MPE V alongside MPE/iX.

HP has already been working on bringing 64-bit features such as large memory space and large files to MPE/iX long before IA-64 is ready for the 3000. The technical discussions taking place over the last year inside CSY include methods to keep from dividing MPE/iX into two camps.

“We don’t want to fork the operating system,” Prather said. “We have had internal debates about how we could provide all of this new functionality, the 64-bitness, and in the future avoid forking the operating system. We have a strong desire to avoid that. I’m not sure we’ll be able to avoid it forever.”

The departure of HP from MPE/iX futures is a fact that changed thousands of careers. Now the future demanded costly migrations for many firms. Everyone could be forgiven for being flummoxed by the leadership flame out, considering how certain the 3000 lab leader sounded in 1998 about building for the future.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:22 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 18, 2018

Still seeking expertise for 3000 work

Port of VirginiaFresche Legacy floated a request this month for 3000 experts to contact the company which was once called Speedware. Eric Mintz runs the services group there. 

Fresche Solutions (formerly Speedware) is looking for HP resources (related to MPE, HP-UX, 4GLs, COBOL, IMAGE, Eloquence, knowledge of the common third party utilities, etc.) for various engagements and start dates (some almost immediate). Mandates may include onsite, remote, short to long term. I can't be more specific than this, so please reach out to me directly and I'll work to facilitate next steps.

Some long-term HP 3000 shops have used the services at Fresche. One of them, Virginia International Terminals, has worked with the company long enough to know it as both Speedware and as Fresche. Late in 2016 the organization was doing its final push away from the 3000. The Windows version of Speedware was the target, with the organization moving off of five MPE apps.

The VIT project was moving ahead of schedule when we last checked in with Mintz. We chronicled the pace on that migration during the earliest phase of the Transition Era, once more as the work ramped up,  and again not long ago. MPE was fully dug-in at the organization, which is now part of the Port of Virginia. That's one reason why 3000 expertise was essential to a successful migration.

VIT was fully locked in over all of the last 15 years of its migration. Even still, when HP dropped Carly Fiorina in 2005, it made the IT manager at the time wonder about a twist in the 3000's fate at the time.

“The ‘change’ did make me wonder if the HP 3000 decision might be revisited,” said Dave Seale, IT Director at VIT, HP’s earliest case study on migration practices. VIT was ready to turn over its migration project to Speedware in March or 2005 after its business growth had slowed VIT’s projected timetable to leave the platform. “It would be very interesting to me if HP decides to reconsider their decision,” Seale said. “Logically, I never could understand it.” 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:13 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 01, 2018

Recovering a 3000 password: some ideas

I have an administrator who decided to change passwords on MANAGER.SYS. Now what's supposed to be the new password isn't working. Maybe he mis-keyed it, or just mis-remembered it. Any suggestions, other than a blindfold and cigarette, or starting down the migration path?

The GOD program, a part of MPEX, has SM capability — so it will allow you to do a LISTUSER MANAGER.SYS;PASS=

If your operator can log onto operator.sys:

file xt=mytape;dev=disc
file syslist=$stdlist
store command.pub;*xt;directory;show

While using your favorite editor or other utility, search for the string: "ALTUSER MANAGER  SYS"

You will notice: PAS=<the pwd> which is your clue.

It's said that a logon to the MGR.TELSUP account can unlock the passwords. The Telsup account usually has SM capability, if it wasn't changed.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:57 PM in Hidden Value, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 25, 2018

Fine-Tune: Locking databases into lookups

Editor's Note: Monday is a holiday to commemorate Memorial Day, so we're celebrating here with time away from the keyboard. We'll be back with a new report May 30.

Lock files databaseWe’re migrating from our 3000 legacy applications to an ERP system hosted on another environment. Management has decreed the HP 3000 apps must still be available for lookups, but nobody should be able to enter new data or modify existing data. Should I do the simplest thing and change all of the databases so that the write class list is empty?

Doug Werth replies:

One way to do this is to write a program in the language of your choice that does a DBOPEN followed by a DBLOCK of each database (this will require MR capability). Then the program goes into an infinite loop calling the PAUSE intrinsic. Any program that tries to update the database will fail to achieve a lock, rendering the databases read-only. Programs that call conditional locks will come back immediately with a failed lock. Unconditional locks will hang.

This has been a very successful solution I have used on systems where a duplicate copy of the databases is kept for reporting and/or shadowing using IMAGE log files.

Steve Dirickson agrees with the poster of the question:

Since very few developers write their apps to check the subsystem write flag that you can set with DBUTIL, changing the classes is your best bet. Make sure you do so by changing the current M/W classes to R/R so the existing passwords will still work for DBOPEN, and only actual put/update/delete operations will fail.

The Big Picture: If protection is required for the database, that protection should reside in the database if at all possible. As mentioned, this is easy with IMAGE.

I am putting a new disk drive into my 3000 configuration, one that doesn't have an HP label on it. It's 500GB and a great value. What patches should I be sure to have installed on MPE/iX 7.5?

MPEMXT1
Large Disk: FSCHECK SYNCACCOUNTING fix for HFS files

MPEMXT3
Large Disk: limit maximum SCSI disk size to a half-terabyte

MPEMXT4
Large Disk: SSM changes for disk space allocation and accounting

MPEMXT7
Large Disk: Discfree changes to correct sector counts

MPEMXU3
Large Disk: REPORT "FORMAT=LONG" enhancement. MPEMXU3 includes patch MPEMXT2 which is another Large Disk/Files patch. MPEMXT2 provides changes to the ALTACCT, NEWACCT, ALTGROUP, NEWGROUP commands.

MPEMXU6
Large Disk: CATALOG.PUB.SYS changes for CIERR messages

MPEMXU7
Large Disk: CICAT and CICATERR.PUB.SYS changes

The critical one is MPEMXT3, which protects from other problems.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 21, 2018

Second generation of migration begins

Synergy for DummiesHP advertised the transition off of 3000s as a migration in 2002. The changes and replacements took place throughout the rest of that decade, culminating around the time HP was closing off its support operations for MPE/iX in 2011. That was generation number one for migration at 3000 shops. The second shift is underway.

Promedica is the largest employer in Toledo, Ohio, a non-profit corporation which used 3000s to manage provider operations running the Amisys software. Tom Gerken is still an analyst at the organization, after many years of managing the production HP 3000s. Now the healthcare firm is shifting off of its Unix version of Amisys, after taking its 3000 computing and migrating it to HP's Unix.

"We did continue using Amisys," he says. "We moved to HP-UX in the second half of 2006. The data transfer to the Oracle database went smoothly. It was really sad seeing the HP 3000s go away."

At Promedica the changes are leading into another generation of migration. "We most likely aren't staying with Amisys much longer," he said. "We have begun the search for a replacement system. I think Amisys is still in the running officially, but I hear it's a long shot to make it into the finals."

Out at the City of Sparks, Nevada, another longtime 3000 manager is shifting into a fresh generation of computing resource. What was once MPE/iX, and then became a virtualized Windows datacenter, is becoming even more virtual.

The 3000 migration was complete at Sparks almost six years ago, and then a virtualized Windows platform got its work assignment. Now the city is heading for a deployment of HPE Synergy. It's still using a Hewlett-Packard product, as it's always been at Sparks under the command of Steve Davidek.

In about a month he's delivering a talk at the HP Discover conference on the migration to HPE Synergy. The HP Enterprise product is a composable infrastructure, one so different that HP arranged for a Dummies guide to be written about Synergy.

Synergy uses software to discover and assemble the pools of compute and storage. A hardware frame houses appliances that run the management software, including Synergy Composer and Synergy Image Streamer. Detailed configurations for particular applications are saved as templates and deployed through Composer. 

Virtually every technology is a base to migrated away from. The changes have slowed over the last five years for 3000 owners, though. Steve Cooper of Allegro says he thinks there's been no more than a five percent decline in systems since last year.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:32 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 07, 2018

June's 3000 Reunion destination: Building D

DukeSnugThis week I made my reservations for a date that's become rare in our community. On June 23, the 3000's experts, vendors, and consultants are gathering for another 3000 Reunion. That's the name that Apple is using for the group, since the gathering will include a visit to the frontier of Apple's world HQ. The event also includes a morning's visit to the Computer History Museum, the site of the 2011 Reunion where more than 150 members gathered.
Apple Park Rooftop

The highest point of the day won't be the elevated observation deck at the Apple Park Visitor Center, overlooking the company's spaceship campus that replaced HP's legendary 3000 hub. The pinnacle seems to be the afternoon hours enjoyed in a cozy snug at the The Duke of Edinburgh pub. Lunch, beverages, and war stories will be on the bill of fare starting at 1. People who know and remember the 3000 will gather in a pub popular enough with the MPE crowd that it's still known as Building D by some community members.

The Duke is on Wolfe Road, just to the west of where the 3000 grew up. Space has been reserved for a group that's making its way beyond 20 attendees. If you join us, I will be delighted to see you and hear your stories there, as well as any update on your interests and work of today.

The close-up nature of the venue doesn't mean it's without an agenda. As of today there's informal talks about migration, Stromasys emulation, the HP Enterprise of today and homesteading in our current era. The group is eager to include a member who's running MPE/iX today, either in virtual mode using the Charon HPA software or native on HP's venerable and as-yet durable HP hardware.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 6.43.07 PMThe Duke was the site of a 2016 meeting of 3000 alums. In-person meetings for the 3000 community happen in bars and pubs by now. This event has been sparked by Dave Wiseman, who organized what he calls a SIG-BAR meeting in London in 2014. The vendor and semi-retired software maven has a history that includes a software project called Millware for 3000s as well as tales about a Series III he installed in 1978. Wiseman calls these events SIG-BAR because hotel bars during the Interex conference era always included informal wisdom, swapped after hours over a glass or bottle of something refreshing.

There's something about English pubs that can attract the 3000 crowd. Some of us who are flying in for the event are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Cupertino. (At the moment, Saturday evening rooms are under $150, which is a value at Bay Area rates.) The Inn is close enough to the Duke that no matter how much happiness is served, it's a one-block walk back from pub. There will be an evening session at the Duke after the Apple tour, too.

The Duke sits within walking distance of a now-lost mecca of the 3000 world, the HP Cupertino campus. Building 48 has been replaced by the concrete, glass and steel of the new Apple world headquarters building. Apple's organized a tour of the Visitor Center for this year's 3000 attendees. The Centre's rooftop is as close as you'll get to the HQ spaceship without a contract with Apple, or a job at the world's Number 1 market cap company.

In 1976, HP fed Apple with engineering talent, a fellow named Steve Wozniak. Legend has it that Woz was working on HP's business computer designs at the time when he left to become VP of Apple R&D. In a way, that Apple HQ has always had innovation on its acres, even before there was a company first called Apple Computer.

The land of what's now called just Apple covers the path where a walk through an HP parking lot and across a cozy margin of poplars brought you to the Duke. "It's right across the street from where MPE lived," Stan Sieler of Allegro said at the 2016 meeting. On June 23, MPE's heart will be among the taps and the chips at The Duke.

In London in 2014, Robelle's Bob Green said this about the in-person meeting at that London pub:

We exchanged notes on the current state of the machine—especially the new emulator—- and discovered what each of us was doing. An amazing number of people are still doing the same thing: helping customers with their IT concerns. But in reality, most of the time was spent swapping war stories from the past, which was great fun.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:41 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 11, 2018

Wayback Wed: HP group combines, survives

Connect LogoIn the aftermath of the Interex user group bankruptcy, an HP enterprise user group survived. That group remains intact to this day. Its survival is due to an ability to combine forces with other groups, an effort that kicked off 10 years ago this week.

That week was the time when Encompass, the user group that outlasted Interex, gave members a vote on merging with three other HP-related groups. At the time of the April vote, Encompass and these partners weren't even sure what the allied group would call itself. Endeavor was being floated as a possible new name.

The vote of the Encompass members approved the merger with the International Tandem User Group; the European HP Interex group, which was operated separately from the rest of Interex; and a Pacific Rim segment of the Encompass group. The European Interex reported that it had 35,000 members at the time of the merger.

Encompass became Connect, a name announced at HP's Discover conference later that same year. Connect still operates a user group with a large meeting (held at HP's annual event, for the in-person gatherings) as well as smaller Regional User Groups.

The group bills itself as Connect Worldwide, the Independent Hewlett Packard Enterprise Technology, a membership organization. Membership in any user group has evolved during the decade-plus since Interex expired. By now it's free to join the group that serves OpenVMS customers, companies that still employ HP's Unix computers and hardware (Integrity), and sites using the HP NonStop servers (the former Tandem systems).

Those Tandem-NonStop users make up nearly all of the in-person meetings other than the HP Discover event. Discover is devoted to everything HP Enterprise sells and supports. One of the few links remaining to the 3000 at Connect is Steve Davidek, whose management and then migration off 3000s at the City of Sparks made him a good transition leader at Connect.

There are Technical Boot Camps for both NonStop and VMS customers that Connect helps to organize. A boot camp for HP-UX never became a reality. That's one of the choices a group of allied users must face: even some support for a resource like a boot camp (some members were eager) needs to be balanced against the majority membership's desires.

Some missions have survived from the Interex model that drove that group for more than 30 years. Advocacy still has a place in the Connect membership benefits, a project that's called Community Voice by now. The old days of an HP user group with a taste for confrontation ended once Interex refused to join HP's effort to consolidate user groups and things like advocacy. The Interex board voted to stay independent—without giving its members a formal vote like the open balloting which Encompass did.

The benefits of Connect still lean heavy on networking, along with some technical resources steeped heavy in NonStop expertise. Advocacy flows through HP's Discover show, and there are 19 Special Interest Groups. SIGs like these were the hotbed of 3000 customer desires communicated to HP from Interex members.

From the Connect website, the list of membership benefits includes these resources.

  • 19 Connect Communities and SIGs (special interest groups)
     
  • Never miss a beat with Connect Now, a monthly eNewsletter
     
  • Problem solve and stay on top of your game with Connect's ITUG Library (a NonStop Download Library)
     
  • Have a say in HPE with the collective voice of Connect's advocacy programs
     
  • NonStop users receive a subscription and access to the archives of The Connection, a bi-monthly technical journal
     
  • All members receive a digital subscription to Connect Converge, our exclusive quarterly technical journal for HPE business technology users
     
  • Save hundreds of dollars per year with discounted registrations to premier events like HPE Discover, and Connect's signature tech-targeted Boot Camps
     
  • Save while you expand your knowledge base with 15% off HPE Education programs
     
  • Members and their dependents can apply for $2,500 Future Leaders in Technology scholarships

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:33 AM in History, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 09, 2018

Aspects to Ponder in Package Replacements

By Roy Brown

Shining-gemEach kind of migration has its advocates, and each has its pros and cons. Your constraints are going to be cost, time, and risk. Probably in that order. I can’t say much about the first two; that depends on your circumstances. Last week we talked about the differences between conversions and migrations and the risks. Another option is going to a package to execute a migration off MPE/iX. It might even be a familiar package — but on a less familiar platform.

Packages

If you have a package running on your HP 3000 which you are happy with, and the vendor provides that same package, or something very similar, on other platforms, then it’s likely just a case of choosing which platform to go with.

Your vendor-supported migration path should be pretty straightforward, and your hardest problem is going to be to decide what to do with the crust of subsystems and reporting programs that have built up, and which surround the package proper. If there are some you can’t do without, and the features aren’t provided by the package anyway, on the new platform, this may be a good chance to get to grips with the tools and utilities on the new platform, and how things are done there.

But maybe you had a bespoke or home-grown application on the HP 3000, in an area now covered by one or more packages on other platforms, and it makes more sense to move onto a package now than to go bespoke again?

In that case, you have a three-way analysis to do; what does your existing system provide, what does the new package provide, and what are your users looking for?

I’ve heard the advice “don’t go for customization, go for plain vanilla” a lot. It certainly gives cost and risk reduction, though perhaps at the expense of business fit. I reckon that a shame; every company has something that is its USP – unique systems proposition – something in its IT that gives it its edge in its chosen business.

On the other hand, sometimes a company does things differently because it was easier, or “it was always done that way.” Those are things you shouldn’t lose sleep over giving up.

A couple of concrete examples; firstly, meaningful SKU numbers. Chances are your SKU numbers, or product codes, have a structure you understand. If so your homegrown systems will likely have dozens of places where a program takes a different path based on what that SKU number is. A package is unlikely to support that; each property needs an explicit flag on the Part Master, and the package has to work off those.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your meaningful SKUs, where everyone in the business knows what they mean. Just that the package won’t know from the SKU, and so you will need to set those flags for each one. And carefully too, or there will be some real confusion.

That’s a case where you go with what the package does. But in the system I’ve just migrated, we had a critical financial value, set against every order, in a complex and special way that was important to the business. The old system calculated it. The new system would accept a pre-calculated value as input, sure, but it wouldn’t do the calculation.

We could, I guess, have asked for it to be customized in. In practice, we built an Excel spreadsheet as a preprocessor to the package proper, and did the calculations there.

There’s still a little bit of me that says moving stuff off the HP 3000 onto a spreadsheet is going backwards. But then there’s a bit of me that says that of moving anything off the HP 3000.

Custom replacement

This is the Rolls-Royce (or should I say Cadillac?) option. But if your application is unique, so there’s no chance of a package solution, and if rewrite/code conversion doesn’t suit, possibly because of a pent-up backlog of business change requests, or the knowledge that your business area is changing radically, it can be the only sensible way to go.

And if so, you don’t need a few thoughts and observations about compromise; you need to know how to choose from the myriad of possibilities out there. I only wish I knew myself…

Roy Brown is CEO at Kelmscott Ltd., a developer and consultant with more than 35 years’ experience on MPE and the HP 3000.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:05 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 06, 2018

How to Measure Aspects of Migrations

Newswire Classic
By Roy Brown

GemSo you are going to migrate. When migrating to a different system or platform, there’s usually something the vendor needs you to lose. But is it essential business functionality, or just an implementation quirk of your old system?

Which migration are you going to have? The luxury option of a custom replacement of your old system? To a package on a new platform, maybe a version of a package you had before, or one new to you? Perhaps the rewrite option, where a team of programmers, possibly offshore, re-implement your system in a whole new environment, while keeping the existing functionality. Or will it be a conversion, where your existing system is transferred to a new platform using automated tools?

Each has its advocates, and each has its pros and cons. Chances are, your constraints are going to be cost, time, and risk. Probably in that order. I can’t say much about the first two; that depends on your circumstances.

Code Conversion

But risk comes in two timescales; immediate risk – “Can we do this? Can we get onto the new platform?” – and the longer-term risk that you are maybe painting your company into a corner by accepting some compromises now that later will turn into shackles.

Those with very long memories may recall some of the early packages being offered for the HP 3000, the apps with KSAM file structures, not IMAGE ones. You just knew they had been ported from elsewhere, not written native on the HP 3000. And if you could find what you wanted, on IMAGE, you were surely glad.

That’s the longer-term risk, then, for some conversions with low short-term risk; you’ll be on the new platform, certainly. But you may have something that plays like the modern-day equivalent of having KSAM, when the smart money is on IMAGE.

Look hard at where you are going to be after a tools-based conversion; will you be fully on the new platform with all-independent code, or will you be running in an environment provided by your conversion specialists? If the latter – and these can indeed lead to faster, cheaper, lower-risk conversions – treat your supplier as a package implementer that you are in with for the long haul, and judge them accordingly.

Likewise, what about ongoing, internal support? One of the reasons to move to new platforms and new paradigms is to tap in to the new generation of people who know their way around them. But if it’s hard to see how you are going to get ongoing support for your HP 3000 apps, how much harder will it be to find people who can support a hybrid old/new system you might wind up with?

Finally, and on the same note, how maintainable is the migrated system going to be? You need to ensure that the generated code is going to be something that a human can easily work with – and likewise the environment the code runs in – or you are going to be effectively frozen in the converted state. Fine if it’s a subsidiary app, perhaps, and this is a stopgap until it dies or you replace it more fundamentally. But not if it’s a key business app that needs to grow with your business going forward.

All this is assuming the conversion is feasible. Hopefully, in the average application suite, you are not going to have done too many unusual things that the automated conversion can’t cope with; maybe some system-y job and user status calls that are done differently on the new platform, and other corner cases, but nothing fundamental.

But sometimes the gotchas can be quite widespread. While inadvertently exploiting the specific way VPlus works, we once had an application that let you put in a partial key and a question mark, hit f2, and go to a lookup screen where you could review matching keys, and select the exact one you wanted.

This was used across quite a range of screens, and relied on VPlus not trying to validate the partial key when you went that route. But move to a screen handler that works rather differently, and you may lose that option. Nothing insurmountable; we just needed to change things so the partial key was entered in the lookup itself, with a code to say what sort of key it was. But this small inconvenience for the user was surely also a bypass of nicer techniques we could have used if we’d had the new handler from scratch.

Rewrites

If a conversion isn’t the way you want to go, then likely you’ll be offered a rewrite. This can be more flexible than a code conversion (though you can bet the conversion team will be using some internal tools for the straightforward bits). And you should wind up with an app that is fully and independently implemented on the new platform, dispensing with any helper environments. Likely, though, it will not quite be what you’d have got starting from a zero base on the new platform – it will retain a few traces of its HP 3000 origins. But hey, is that such a bad thing?

Here again, you need to make sure that you can work with the resulting code going forward, to keep on track with your business needs. But the main issue is what shape is the application you are migrating.

One way of looking at a rewrite is that it’s a full custom conversion—but the results of the business analysis, instead of being expressed as use cases in UML, or whatever, are being presented in “HP 3000 Modeling Language.”

So if you are really happy with how your HP 3000 app fits the business – and if your users are — this can be a better way to go than embarking on a needless rediscovery process. If it ain’t broke – at the business level – then fix it only at the code level.

Not to say you can’t save some money by looking hard at the 3000 app, and maybe trimming out some dead wood – old functionality that is no longer used, and that thus does not need conversion. But do try – at least in the first go-round – not to request new features. Else your rewrite starts creeping towards being a new custom implementation, thus losing you the best of both approaches.

But even with a rewrite, perhaps there will be a few things the rewrite team will balk at, or instances where you will find that the cost of keeping them in is likely to be disproportionately high. Maybe they will come up with an alternative approach, or maybe you will.

But if not, consider what you are losing. A nice-to-have, but which you use once in a blue moon? Or something integral to your business? On a rewrite, it’s less likely to be the latter that when considering packages, which I’ll come to later. And it’s likely to be something system-y again, albeit at the user level, where they interact with job streams, or print queues, or whatever.

Maybe something in the user interface? Though I’m always pleased to see how closely forms on the web follow the VPlus paradigm of fill in all the data, press Enter, get it validated, go forward if okay.

But you do need to be as flexible as possible about doing things a new way on a new platform. People often ask “How do I do x?” where x is an attempted solution they can’t get working. Invariably, the response is “Yes, but what’s the actual problem you are trying to solve?” And the answer turns out to be quite different from x.

Adopt that precept here; go right back to the problem you are trying to solve, and not how to get an envisaged solution working. You’ll get a much better answer.

Roy Brown is CEO at Kelmscott Ltd., and a developer and consultant with more than 35 years’ experience on MPE and the HP 3000

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:08 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 02, 2018

Options for HP 3000 Transformation

By Bruce McRitchie
VerraDyne

GearsTime — it marches on. We can measure it, bend it and try to avoid it. But in the end the clock keeps ticking. This is true for owners of the venerable HP 3000. In its day one of the top minicomputers ever manufactured, it went head-on against IBM (mainframes, AS/400, and System 36), Wang and Digital - and won many of those battles. And many HP 3000s are still running and doing the job they were designed to do. They have been upgraded, repaired and tinkered with to keep them viable. But when is it time for them to retire?

There are options. Many vendors have been working diligently to provide a transformation path to move from the HP 3000 to a modern platform and language. By making such a move these organizational risks are reduced:

  • Hardware failure.
  • Personnel failure - aging programmers.
  • Software failure.

Migration issuesSo why aren't the remaining HP 3000 owners flocking to newer technology? Is it because they know the technology so well — and it works? Have they been through large ugly development projects and never want to go through the pain again?

Whatever the reasoning, the arguments for staying with HP 3000 must be wearing thin. There are options, and to a greater or lesser extent, they all do the transformation job. Today's technology will allow companies to move their whole HP 3000 environment to a new modern environment, with or without changing language and operating system elements. Of course, with the different paths there are trade-offs that must be considered. This article briefly explores some of the options available to transform your HP 3000.

Emulation

At first glance this can appear to be the cheapest and easiest solution. A company picks the supplier of the emulation software, installs it, then puts their code on top and voila—their system is running as it always did. 

But is it? You may now have an emulator interpreting instructions from your HP 3000 and the new operating system you'll use to run the emulator. Is that interpretation always correct?

And what about the MPE commands themselves? Are they being interpreted correctly? Are you getting the results you expect? Although there are no new changes coming for MPE, you may have to learn Linux or another new OS for an emulator.

And what about the cost of emulation? Of course, there is the initial cost. But what of the ongoing costs? You now have to pay for the emulator and the native OS that drives it.

Here are some of the deficiencies we have noted over the years:

• Being an emulation of the existing system, it still requires continued use of old skill-sets. Add that to the new skill-set required to be learned for the emulation layer. Some emulation designs will also require new skill-sets for the target open systems platform and COBOL. You can now have a highly complex skill-set requirement for the IT staff and potentially a new OS to contend with.

• Some emulators only support certain parts of the current system; they do not support all the components that are currently used.

• If the application has to sit on top of the emulation layer, then access to the native operating system is restricted.

• Interoperability with other applications or services on the platform can sometimes be severely restricted.

• Emulators mimic the data structures of the legacy system. This is great for running the current system as is, but does nothing to make the data accessible outside to other systems, inquiry or reporting tools.

• Running emulation renders the customer completely dependent upon the emulation vendor for ongoing support and upgrades, which in itself is a sizable risk factor.

In other words, emulation can bring its own new set of problems.

Redevelopment

The specter of re-development haunts most people (especially those who have been large development projects and cannot forget the late nights, long days, and missed vacations). Defining the business requirements, architecting the new solution, finding business analysts, programmers and project managers. Persevering through a long and drawn out process with hundreds of meetings, thousands of decisions — and finally— testing!

Hours and hours of trying to figure out if it can work well enough for the business needs. And then the bill comes. In some cases, millions of dollars, years of effort—and believe it or not, after all the years of improving —many development projects still fail.

These considerations are even more important today, when business needs are quickly changing and the underlying technology is changing to keep up. The whole platform on which the system is developed will change during the project.

Companies have spent years injecting their business intelligence into their software. Re-developing is a sure way to erode that valuable asset.

Migration

Migration offers a lower risk, lower-cost solution than re-development—so that you can end up with the functionality you need, in a language and operating system that is modern and supported by many resources.

Maybe you are running COBOL on your HP 3000 under MPE/iX but would like to be running VB on Windows. VerraDyne can do such a migration. And we can do it at a reasonable price in a reasonable time frame.

Simply put, migration is the process of moving the current applications onto a new open system platform so that they run in 'true native' mode on that new platform. However, after migration, the application and core business logic are still the mature proven systems that they were on the old legacy platform. The old proprietary legacy components are removed and are replaced by the modern components of the new open system platform.

These are the main points when considering automated conversion with no use of proprietary middleware:

• Migration removes the old legacy skill sets but it does not affect the core business logic, so the customer's systems and existing programming staff can quickly retake ownership of the converted code and continue maintaining it with very little retraining. The converted system can be deployed on the new open system with the same screens and processes that existed on the legacy platform, so user department retraining is virtually eliminated.

• Since the converted applications operate on the new open system identically as they did on the HP 3000, determining successful migration is black and white. The converted system either runs the same or it doesn't — if it doesn't, it is fixed until it does. There is no gray area, there is no 'maybe' — obtaining successful project completion is a clear and concise process.

• By minimizing manual intervention, automated conversion provides an extremely low risk, short timeframe solution. The majority of the project cycle is devoted to the most important task of testing.

• The converted system runs as a 'true native' application on the targeted open system, so there are no roadblocks to gaining the full benefits of the new open systems platform: GUI screens, Web functionality, databases and more

• Conversion provides all the benefits a company seeks without any trade-offs. It absolutely minimizes intrusion into the company's operations. The entire project is performed at very low risk.

• After conversion, the customer has full ownership of its code. There is no dependence on the migration vendor after conversion.

VerraDyne has spent 25 years developing converters that move language and OS code from one platform to another. We have done it with hundreds of systems. At the end of a project you have a system that looks, feels and behaves like the old system, but is able to take advantage of new technologies. This is our claim to fame and our intellectual property, and we are very good at it. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:16 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 21, 2018

Tracking the Prints of 3000 Print Software

Tymlabs logoA reader of ours with a long memory has a 3000 connected to a printer. The printer is capable of printing a 8.5 x 12 sheet, so it's enterprise-grade. The 3000 is running software built by OPT, '90s-era middleware for formatting print jobs from MPE/iX.

To nobody's surprise, the PSP Plus product had problems operating in 2018. "I actually tried to use it in recent times to print to a strange brand of printers, Microplex," our reader said. "The software still ran, but formatting did not work right."

Bruce-Toback

"I was able to print to it with some success, but I could never get the software to do what I wanted it to do, which was to fill up a 12 x 8.5" page and make logical and physical page breaks coincide." The software was a stellar choice for its day, having been developed by the funny, wry and brilliant Bruce Toback (above). Bruce passed away during the month we started this blog, though, more than 12 years ago. His tribute was the subject of our very first blog entry.

Great software that once could manage many printers, but can't do everything, might be revived with a little support. It's a good bet that OPT support contract hasn't been renewed, but asking for help can't hurt if your expectations are reasonably low. The challenge is finding the wizard who still knows the OPT bits.

"We bought and it went from OPT to Tymlabs to Unison to Tivoli to...” These kinds of bit-hunts are the management task that is sometimes crucial to homesteading in 2018. Printing can be a keystone of an IT operation, so if the software that drives the paper won't talk to a printer, even a strange one, that failure can trigger a migration. It's like the stray thread at the bottom of the sweater that unravels the whole garment.

Maybe this product that started at OPT never made its way to Tivoli. My notes say ROC Software took on all of the Unison products. Right here in Austin—where we're breathing with relief after that bomber's been taken down—ROC still supports and sells software for companies using lots of servers. Even HP 3000s.

Tracking these footprints of this print middleware led through some history. Searches turned up a NewsWire article about Toback—many, in fact, where in Hidden Value he was teaching 3000 users on the 3000-L about one kind of software or another. Back in 1997 the discussion was about something rather new called Linux. Linux could be useful, he said, to hook up a PC to the relatively-new World Wide Web.

Searching for OPT—which was the name of Toback's company—turned up plenty of hits about another OPT/3000, the one HP sold to track 3000 performance under MPE. Before we knew it, there was an HP Configuration Guide for the Series III and Series 30 on our monitor. Circa 1979, the HP3000 Family had promise.
 
HP 3000 Series III"The expandable hardware configurations and upward software compatibility of all the models," said the guide, "allow you to choose the system that best fits your current needs, while protecting your investment for the future." HP and everyone else didn't imagine that almost 40 years later that 3000 family would still have living members.
 
HP's OPT was a dead end, since HP stopped supporting that product by 1997. As for the Series III, with its beefy 120MB disk drive (the size of a single daily newspaper edition's PDF file), it was a museum piece before Y2K arrived. One support company featured a Series III at an HP World trade show, setting it up in a booth for people to photograph themselves with. No selfies in that year—you needed somebody else to capture your moment with history.
 
ROC was in the NewsWire archives, though. A 1999 article showed us that the OPT software had become Formation after the product was sold to Tymlabs, another Austin company. ROC bought Formation along with the rest of the stable of products which Tymlabs had sold to Unison—and Unison sold that lineup including Maestro to Tivoli. There's some begat's of vendors we might have left out there. Nevertheless, things like PSP Plus were well-built and useful for more than two decades.
 
That's the lure of homesteading—its low-cost ownership—as well as the curse of staying on too long. Product expertise disappears. We've reached out to ROC to see if the offices on Northland Boulevard still contain some tribal knowledge of the artist formerly known as PSP Plus.
 
Our reader, devoted to the 3000 in more than just spirit, is hopeful about its future even while he relies on software and hardware from the past. "I was so encouraged a couple of days ago that I actually searched the Internet for HP3000 MPE system manager jobs," said Tim O'Neill.

"If I did not have to move too far, I would sure like to go back to MPE. To me, it is still an exciting world—and with Stromasys Charon hardware and massively parallel disk arrays and high-speed networking, it is an exciting NEW world!"

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:12 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 19, 2018

Why Support Would Suggest Exits from 3000

Way-OutThe work of a support provider for 3000 customers has had many roles over the last 40 years. These indies have been a source for better response time, more customer-focused services, a one-call resource, affordable alternatives and expertise HP no longer can offer. They've even been advisors to guide a 3000 owner to future investments.

That last category needs expertise to be useful, and sometimes it requires a dose of pragmatism, too. Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions gave us a thoughtful answer to the question of, "How do I get my 3000 ready for post-2028 use?" His advice shows how broad-minded a 3000-focused support company can be.

By Steve Suraci

While the solution to the 2028 problem is going to be fairly trivial, it really is the entry point to a much bigger question: What logical argument could any company make at this time to continue to run an HP 3000 MPE system beyond 2028?

I understand that some companies have regulatory requirements that require data to be available on the 3000 for years beyond its original creation date. Beyond this, what logical justification could an IT manager make to their management for perpetuating the platform in production beyond 2028? 

2028 is a long way out from HP’s end of support date [2010] and even further from the original 2001 announcement by HP of their intentions to no longer support it.  It would seem to me that there was a reasonable risk/reward proposition for extending the platform initially for some period of time.  I have to believe that the justification for that decision will expire as time goes on, if not already.

The homesteading base has not in general been willing to spend to keep the platform viable.  They take bigger and bigger risks and alienate themselves from the few support providers who remain capable of providing support in the event of an actual issue. The stability of the platform has lulled them into believing that this has been a good decision.  But what happens when it’s not?

Who at Beechglen or Allegro—or here for that matter—with any in-depth MPE knowledge will still be working in 2028? MPE guys were getting long in the tooth back in 2004!

The 2028 pitch should be to finally put these systems to pasture. We are pressing our customers to move off the platform, as should any MPE support provider. I challenge any MPE system administrator to come up with a viable argument for using the platform beyond 2028.

Is the risk really still worth the reward? The HP 3000 has been a workhorse that has served us well.  Alas, all good things must come to an end!

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:05 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2018

Fine-tune Friday: SCSI Unleashed

Seagate 73GB driveAlthough disk technology has made sweeping improvements since HP's 3000 hardware was last built, SCSI devices are still being sold. The disk drives on the 15-year-old servers are the most likely point of hardware failure. Putting in new components such as the Seagate 73-GB U320 SCSI 10K hard drive starts with understanding the nature of the 3000's SCSI.

As our technical editor John Burke wrote, using a standard tech protocol means third parties like Seagate have products ready for use in HP's 3000 iron.

SCSI is SCSI

Extend the life of your HP 3000 with non-HP peripherals

By John Burke

This article will address two issues and examine some options that should help you run your HP 3000 for years to come. The first issue: you need to use only HP-branded storage peripherals. The second issue: because you have an old (say 9x7, 9x8 or even 9x9) system, then you are stuck using both old technology and just plain old peripherals. Both are urban legends and both are demonstrably false.

There is nothing magical about HP-branded peripherals

Back in the dark ages when many of us got our first exposure to MPE and the HP 3000, when HP actually made disk drives, there was a reason for purchasing an HP disk drive: “sector atomicity.” 9x7s and earlier HP 3000s had a battery that maintained the state of memory for a limited time after loss of power. In my experience, this was usually between 30 minutes and an hour.

These systems, however, also depended on special firmware in HP-made HP-IB and SCSI drives (sector atomicity) to ensure data integrity during a power loss. If power was restored within the life of the internal battery, the system started right back up where it left off, issuing a “Recover from Powerfail” message with no loss of data. It made for a great demo.

Ah, but you say all your disk drives have an HP label on them? Don’t be fooled by labels. Someone else, usually Seagate, made them. HP may in some cases add firmware to the drives so they work with certain HP diagnostics, but other than that, they are plain old industry standard drives. Which means that if you are willing to forego HP diagnostics, you can purchase and use plain old industry standard disk drives and other peripherals with your HP 3000 system.

Connect just about anything to anything

SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface. It comes in a variety of flavors with a bewildering set of names attached such as SCSI-2, SCSI-3, SE-SCSI, FW-SCSI, HVD, LVD SCSI, Ultra SCSI, Ultra2 SCSI, Ultra3 SCSI, Ultra4 SCSI, Ultra-160, Ultra-320, etc. Pretty intimidating stuff.

Don’t despair though. Pretty much any kind of SCSI device can be connected to any other with the appropriate intermediary hardware. Various high quality adaptors and cables can be obtained from Paralan (www.paralan.com) or Granite Digital (www.granitedigital.com).

So, SCSI really is SCSI. It is a well-known, well-understood, evolving standard that makes it very easy to integrate and use all sorts of similar devices. MPE and the HP 3000 are rather behind the times, however, in supporting specific SCSI standards. Support for LVD SCSI was added with the A- and N-Class systems—and with MPE/iX 7.5, these same systems would support Fibre Channel (FC). 

Let’s concentrate on the SE-SCSI and FW-SCSI interfaces, both seemingly older than dirt, and disk and tape storage devices. But first, suppose you replace an old drive in your system, where should you put it? The 9x7s, 9x8s and 9x9s all have internal drive cages of varying sizes. It is tempting to fill up these bays with newer drives and, if space is at a critical premium, go ahead.

However, if you can, heed the words of Gavin Scott.

I’d recommend putting the new drives in an external case rather than inside the system, since that gives you much more flexibility and eliminates any hassles associated with installing the drive inside the cabinet. It’s the same SCSI interface that you’d be plugging into, so apart from saving the money for the case and cable, there’s no functional difference. With the external case you can control the power of the drive separately, watch the blinking lights, move the drive from system to system (especially useful if you set it up as its own volume set), etc.

At sites such as Granite Digital you can buy any number of rack mount, desktop and tower enclosures for disk systems. Here is another urban legend; LDEV 1 must be an internal drive. False. Or, the boot tape device has to be internal. False. You cannot tell by the path whether a drive is internal or external, and the path is the only thing MPE knows (or cares) about the physical location of the drive.

Okay, there are some limits

Once you come to terms with the fact that you can use almost any SCSI disk drive in your HP 3000, dealing with SE SCSI is a piece of cake and a whole world of possibilities opens up. With the right cable or adapter (see Paralan or Granite Digital) you are in business.

But just because you can connect the latest LVD drive to your SE-SCSI adaptor, should you? Probably not, because you are still limited by the speed of the SE adaptor and so are just wasting your money. Now that you know you do not need the specific HP drives you once bought, you can pick up used or surplus drives ridiculously cheap. [Ed. note: the 73 GB drive at the top of the article is $129.]

Seagate created new technology drives with the old technology 50-pin SE-SCSI interface, the 18Gb model ST318418N and the 36Gb model ST336918N.

FW-SCSI is more problematic than SE-SCSI because no one even makes FW-SCSI (HVD) disk drives any more and you need more than just a simple cable or adapter to connect newer drives to an HVD adaptor. In fact, from the Paralan site, “HVD SCSI was rendered obsolete in the SPI-3 document of SCSI-3.”

So, what is one to do? Most systems with FW-SCSI adaptors need them for the increased throughput and capacity they provide over SE-SCSI. Paralan and others make HVD-LVD converters. The Paralan MH17 is a standalone converter that allows you to connect a string of LVD disk drives to an HP FW-SCSI adaptor. Pretty cool.

If you're on a Fibre Channel (FC) SAN environment and you would like to store your HP 3000 data on the SAN, then only the PCI-Bus A- and N-Class systems (under MPE/iX 7.5) support native Fibre Channel.

A quick word about configuring your new storage peripherals: Do not get confused by the seemingly endless list of peripherals in IODFAULT.PUB.SYS. And, do not worry if your particular disk or tape drive is not listed in IODFAULT.PUB.SYS. Part of the SCSI standard allows for the interrogation of the device for such things as ID, size, etc. DSTAT ALL shows the disk ID returned by the drive, not what you entered in SYSGEN.

When configuring in a new drives, just use an ID that is close. In fact, there is really no need for any more than two entries for disk drives in IODFAULT, one for SE drives and one for HVD drives so as to automatically configure in the correct driver. The same is true for tape drives.

Summary

Disk drives and tape drives are the devices most likely to fail in your HP 3000 system. The good news is that you do not need to be stuck using old technology, nor are you limited to HP only peripherals. The bottom line is you have numerous options to satisfy your HP 3000 storage needs, both now and into the future.

Special thanks go to Denys Beauchemin, who contributed significant material to this article.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:41 PM in Hidden Value, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 12, 2018

Momentum moves towards Museum meeting

CHM displayDave Wiseman continues to pursue a 3000 user reunion for late June, and we've chosen to help invite the friends of the 3000. One of the most common sentiments from 3000 veterans sounds like what we heard from Tom Gerken of an Ohio-based healthcare firm.

"It was really sad seeing the HP 3000s go away," he said, talking about the departure of the system from Promedica. "I really liked MPE as an operating system. It was the BEST!"

The last HP 3000 event 2011 was called a Reunion. A 2018 event might be a Retirement, considering how many of the community's members are moving to semi-retirement.

Wiseman says that he's in retirement status as he defines it. "It's working not because you have to,"he said in a call last week, "but because you want to."

Most of us will be working in some capacity until we're too old to know better. That makes the remaining community members something like the HP 3000 itself—serving until it's worn down to bits. The event this summer will be a social gathering, a chance to see colleagues and friends in person perhaps for the first time in more than a decade.

The weekend of June 23-24 is the target for the 3000 Retirement party. We're inquiring about the Computer History Museum and a spot inside to gather, plus arrangements for refreshments and appetizers. There will be a nominal cover fee, because there's no band. Yet.

If you've got a customer list or a Facebook feed you'd like to spread the word on, get in touch with me. Spread the word. Email your friends.

No matter whether you have a contact list or not, save the date: one afternoon on the fourth weekend of June. Details to come. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:13 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 02, 2018

Fine-Tune Friday: One 3000 and Two Factors

RSA SecurID fobPeople are sometimes surprised where HP 3000s continue to serve. Even in 2018, mission-critical systems are performing in some Fortune 500 companies. When the death knell sounds for their applications, the axe gets swung sometimes because of security. Two-Factor security authentication is a standard now, serving things like Google accounts, iCloud data, and corporate server access.

Eighteen years ago, one HP 3000 shop was doing two-factor. The work was being coded before smartphones existed. Two-factor was delivered using a security fob in most places. Andreas Schmidt worked for Computer Sciences Corporation, which served the needs of DuPont in Bad Homburg, Germany. CSC worked with RSA Security Dynamics to create an RSA Agent that connected a 3000 to an RSA Server.

Back in that day, authentication was done with fobs like the one above. Now it's a smart device sharing the key. Schmidt summarized the work done for what he calls "the chemical company" which CSC was serving.

Two-Factor Token Authentication is a state-of-the-art process to avoid static passwords. RSA Security Dynamics provides an MPE Agent for this purpose which worked perfectly for us with Security/3000, but also with basic MPE security. The technical approach is not simple, but manageable. The main problems may arise during the rollout because of human behavior in keeping known procedures and avoiding changes, especially for security. But to stay on HP 3000 into the future, the effort is worth it, especially for better security.

The project worked better when it relied on the Security/3000 software installed on the server hosting Order Fulfillment. Two-factor security was just gaining widespread traction when this 3000 utilized it. Schmidt acknowledged that the tech work was not simple, but was manageable. When a 3000 site is faced with the alternative of developing a replacement application away from MPE/iX, or selecting an app off the shelf like SAP, creating two-factor is within the limits of possibility. Plus, it may not be as expensive as scrapping an MPE application.

Schmidt's article covers an Agent Solution created by CSC. Even 18 years ago, remaining on the 3000 was an issue worth exploring. When many outside firms access a 3000, two factor can be key.

DuPont wanted two-factor tested on its NT systems, plus the 3000.

NT and MPE were selected as pilots: NT because of the large number of servers running that environment; and MPE because of the thinking that this platform might be different from all others and more difficult to implement. However, the company also recognized the importance of running its 3000-based Order Fulfillment Process with a lot of different outside partners.

RSA’s first attempt to develop an agent for MPE was very simple: A token had to become configured for a combination of MPE-USER-ID.MPE ACCOUNT. This combination could not be reused on another token. It was not possible to use wildcards or to add SESSION-IDs or MPE-GROUP to have a complete logon string. Because of the MPE characteristic to share logons (on all levels of capabilities) this version of the agent was not what we were looking for. (More drastically: This agent could not function for the MPE platform).

The second attempt was much better: everything was changed to the chemical company’s already-existing Security/3000 setup. Now Security/3000 invokes the RSA Agent to contact the RSA Server. It transmits either the SESSION-ID or the MPE-USER-ID as the name of the token. If the token is known and allowed to access the HP 3000, the agent asks the user for the current tokencode plus PIN.

This agent also functions without Security/3000 by adding some lines to the System’s Logon UDC. This drops some additional functions in combination with Security/3000, like verifying a user profile in any case (SESSION-ID,MPE-USER-ID.MPE-ACCOUNT is defined as allowed logon in Security/3000, all others will be refused before starting anything), but it will work.

The project report details show this could be installed even before two-factor took a wide foothold in IT. Schmidt doesn't share the code in his article because it was custom work for a dedicated customer. But the process is worth a look, even if only to prove that custom code brings a 3000 into security compliance.

"One thing is essential," Schmidt wrote. "The RSA Agent for MPE does not replace the MPE password process like it does for Unix or NT. It is activated first when the HELLO string has been entered and the MPE password hurdle has been passed (Account, User, and/or Group Password) and (as an option) the basic check within Security/3000 for profile existence is passed. Now any other logon UDC functions are invoked, and this activates the RSA Agent.

Having Security/3000 in place is a good idea to replace the session passwords (if any) by supplying the tokencode.

Not having session names in place, the RSA Agent will add an additional password. I do not recommend eliminating the MPE password — it’s still a fence around your system and is needed for batch security (depending on the streaming security you have in place).

Complete details are in the NewsWire website's archived Technical Articles. Go forth and secure, if preserving an application is a better choice than locating an app replacement.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:52 PM in Hidden Value, Migration | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 26, 2018

Overview compares emulation strategies

MBFA Emulation OptionsMB Foster has put some of its Wednesday Webinars online for streaming. A link to a web page leads to a form for input of your name and email, and eventually a return message gives a link to the streams. The company has a lot of firsts to its name for transition training, and this might be the first delivery online of 3000-specific advice since HP's migration broadcasts of 15 years ago.

Much of the online content wraps around the MB Foster product line: UDACentral, UDASynch, and MBF-Scheduler all have webinars. One broadcast, though, promises to be one of the first overviews of emulation strategies. These are the ways customers can re-host HP 3000 applications. Virtualization, using the Charon HPA solution from Stromasys, is the ultimate solution discussed in 45 minutes of presentation.

"I don't think there's anybody else in the marketplace that's given an overview of the emulators," said MB Foster's Chris Whitehead. "It's been up to each individual company to decipher what they can and cannot use."

He's right, and the webinars from early this year and the middle of last year give a broad overview of what emulation might look like. It's an interesting term with many definitions, according to our overview. For some planners, this word means getting away from MPE/iX-based hardware, creating a shell on a Windows or Unix host where MPE/iX apps run. The infrastructure and surround code changes, along with databases and services like job streaming. A more current solution, from Stromasys, gives modern Intel hosts a Linux cradle, where a PA-RISC lookalike runs existing MPE/iX code, infrastructure and all. Nothing changes except the hardware in that emulation.

CEO Birket Foster said some of his customers have deployed the Charon emulator. A few on the call said the overview was helpful in understanding the options for emulation.

The link to the emulation show is available by following the MB Foster link to its email-collection page. One pass through what the company calls HP 3000 Emulation Options (free signup required) has about 45 minutes of review including slides. The Stromasys information shows up at the 34:00 mark of the show, which includes summaries of EZ-MPE, TI/Ordat, and Marxmeier's Eloquence database — the latter a TurboIMAGE lookalike.

The goal of most emulation is to keep changes to a minimum. Charon does the most complete job of limiting change.HP helped emulation become virtualization for 3000s. Emulation of HP's hardware on Intel came to our community after Stromasys re-engineered code for PA-RISC boot up. HP gave help directly to the company to complete the project after a long pause on HP's part.

Along the way toward explaining how Stromasys became a part of the MB Foster customer experience, there's a comment about the help OpenMPE provided in the effort. After OpenMPE's eight years of lobbying and negotiations, HP in 2010 ultimately made a source code license for MPE/iX available to the market. Seven companies licensed it. Stromasys (called SRI at the time) was not a licensee, though. The code was important to support providers, of course, companies like Pivital Solutions

Adager and Ordat -- the latter the European supplier of the IMAGE wrapper technology mentioned in the webinar, the former the market leader in IMAGE tools -- were among the software development companies, along with healthcare application vendor Neil Harvey & Associates. Pivital Solutions, Allegro Consultants, Beechglen Development and Terix got right to the source code in support of their HP 3000 customers.

The licenses delivered code that couldn't be used in the marketplace until January 1, 2011, the first day that HP no longer offered HP 3000 support services. HP described the read-only licenses as a means for "delivery of system-level technical support."

Whatever the benefits of source code might be for the market—workarounds are a big plus for tech problems on the 3000—emulation in it's least-changing definition doesn't have a link to MPE/iX source.

The link between MPE/iX and the Charon emulation lies in its unique ability to run any code built for the 3000 hardware on Intel systems. OpenMPE opened its quest in 2002 for post-HP 3000 use by hoping for an open source version of MPE. Open hardware arrived instead, using the Stromasys product, an emulation of the iron that HP stopped building in 2003.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:31 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 19, 2018

Relief at Finding One Another is Real

Missed-youIt can be difficult to round up a collective of HP 3000 and MPE users. Even the CAMUS user group society meeting of November was dominated by vendors, consultants and non-customers. I began long ago to classify consultants as customers. They're representing a company that needs expertise but can't put an expert on the payroll. During the call one consultant spoke up saying he was doing just that. A representative from Infor was asking how many of the meeting's attendees had MANMAN installed.

After awhile Terry Lanza, who'd organized the meeting conducted on a widespread conference call, asked "Is there an HP 3000 user group still going, or has that kind of folded?" Doug Werth of Beechglen replied, "The user group doesn't really exist much. It's just the HP3000 Listserv."

Even the 3000-L, where the L stands for Listserv, has many moments of absolute quiet. People are curious, reading what's been up there for more than 25 years. But it can be weeks between messages. The Quiet Day Count stands at seven right now, after an exchange about groups residing on multiple volumesets.

That's why it's encouraging to see people like Lanza and Dave Wiseman bring efforts to bear on finding one another. Wiseman, who's hosted some 3000 gatherings over the very-quiet last five years, still has his eye set on a 2018 3000 meeting. He's looking in specific at two dates for a meeting in June: Saturday the 16th or Friday the 22nd. That could be a meeting in Cupertino, or a gathering out on the California coast in Santa Cruz, he says. I'd be voting for that Friday (flights are cheaper on Thursdays) with time to enjoy California for a couple days afterward.

Get in touch with us via email, or better yet with Wiseman, to show a preference. ([email protected] or +44 777 555 7017)

The overwhelming emotion I see and hear during meetings like that CAMUS call or an in-person event is relief. "I thought I was the only one left out here running a 3000," someone said during the CAMUS call. You're not, and gatherings reinforce your good stewardship of an IT resource. They might also provide an update on what to do next. It could be virtualization or a migration. Real world experience flows easier in person. You can also learn what you might have missed.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:18 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 05, 2018

Migrations Altered to Appear as Emulation

Terms about transition have been fluid and flexible for more than a decade in the 3000 community. People say migration when the solution is actually conversion. Migration has also been called emulation, a status that was the holy grail when HP canceled its 3000 plans. "If only," said the companies dug in on MPE/iX, "there was a way to make something behave like the 3000 value set."

Altered-Carbon-MigrationOpenMPE spent the first four years of its lifespan chasing that ideal. First there was the goal of getting ahold of enough source code that MPE/iX could continue to evolve in labs outside HP. That was shot down right away, and then there was the goal of getting a replacement platform for HP's hardware. The 3000 experience was lashed to PA-RISC and HP wasn't building any more of those servers by 2003.

Enter the first discussions of making a chip that could mimic PA-RISC, a PA-8000 at the least. This emulation was not going to happen in hardware. One plan proposed that HP would continue to make the chips and sell them to a third party vendor. People wanted to believe something.

What people wanted was a way to slip their 3000 computing into a new body, something fresher than HP's old designs. This past weekend, Altered Carbon dropped on Netflix. The story shows how the things that make up our true selves — like the programs custom-built to run a company — can be re-sleeved into a new body. The brain is called a Stack on the show, the body is a Sleeve. Sleeves are disposable for the right price. The Stack is backed up and treasured. You only experience Real Death when your Stack is destroyed.

The magic is moving the Stack into a new Sleeve. The magic was putting MPE/iX stacks onto the disposable sleeves of Intel hardware. After emulation's ideal went into hibernation, Stromasys opened the door back up with software, and true emulation was born. It's been more than five years by now, and the project became a product quickly. Emulation means making one host mimic another. It's got a powerful attraction: limited change and no re-training.

Emulation looks like migration, though, when it walks like it and sounds like it. This kind of emulation ducky takes non-3000 software (Linux, Windows, even Unix) and plants it in place of MPE/iX. The programs will slip across to the new host after revisions and rewrites, work that's usually delivered by the line of code. There are substitutions for surrounding tools (like MPEX, or a job scheduler) that demand retraining. It probably looks different to the users, too, so there's that adjustment.

Migration still has real benefits. It walks and sounds a lot different than a software engine that takes 3000 programs and runs them on Intel hardware. Emulation has no other changes except to learn how to replace the oil in the engine and learn how to start it up. Charon, really. Everything else is migration. If you'll be headed to migration, it's a straighter path acknowledge you'll migrate and find an agent to apply that change. The 3000's had years of camouflage offered as emulation. In place of a real emulator, it was the best way forward.

Real migration doesn't pretend to be emulation. Migration of legacy systems assumes there are better tech solutions that have been established since the 2001 design of MPE/iX and PA-RISC. Genuine migration retains business logic, line by line, with whatever service expertise is needed. You get what you pay for because you need more. It's not the best solution if all you need is non-HP iron.

You get more from real migration than from emulation. More changes, to be sure, so the benefits revolve around extended connectivity (to other software, non-HP) and a broader future (tools not controlled by a system vendor). A bigger ecosystem then beckons.

Emulation, by now, needs to be virtualization. The level of complexity in emulating software has been demonstrated over the last 20 years. MPUX was a part of the ViaNova/3000 solution back at the start of this century. It was a sub-system enabling 3000 sites to run and maintain MPE/iX applications hosted on non-MPE/iX servers. It was not emulation. MPUX gave system administrators the 3000’s command set, as well as supporting MPE/iX intrinsics, on non-3000 environments. The software doesn't isolate applications or users in an emulation environment, but instead provides Unix, Linux or Windows services to the MPE/iX applications.

A migration and an emulation are two different things, a distinction that's important to acknowledge. Emulation gives standard and supportable hardware to MPE/iX with a minimum of change. Migration changes the development of surround code, can involve re-training users, strives to modernize apps, and must deliver adaptability to link with new software.

Migration also gives new, fresher hardware, just like emulation does. It's just about the only benefit the two solutions have in common by 2018. Ask for migration by name. And for emulation, do the same.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:52 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 17, 2018

VerraDyne adds new 3000 migration savvy

Legacy Migration VerraDyneThe HP 3000 has journeyed on the migration path for more than 16 years. The journey's length hasn't kept the community from gaining new resources give an MPE/iX datacenter a fresh home, though. VerraDyne takes a bow this year with an offer of skills and service rooted in 3000 transitions. The Transition Era isn't over yet, and Windows remains the most likely destination for the remaining journeys.

In-house application suites make up the biggest part of the homesteading HP 3000s. Business Development VP Bruce McRitchie said his MPE experience began in an era before MPE/XL ran the servers at McCloud-Bishop while other partners worked at System House during the 1980s.

In those days the transitions came off of Wang and DEC systems, he said, as well as making changes for HP 3000 customers. The work in those days was called a conversion more often than a migration. In the years since, replacing an in-house solution with a package was a common choice for migrations. Package replacements have their challenges, though. McRitchie reminds us that custom modifications can make replacement a weak choice, and often a business must change its operations to meet the capabilities of a package. There's sometimes data conversions, too.

In contrast, the VerraDyne migration solution is a native implementation to a target environment with no emulation, middleware, or any black box approach. ADO or ODBC enables database access when a VerraDyne project is complete, usually anywhere from three months to a year from code turnover to return to client. Microsoft's .NET platform is a solution that's worked at prior migrations. But there's also been projects where COBOL II has been moved to Fujitsu or AcuCobol.

Matinelli was an organization with a unique challenge for a VerraDyne migration: HP 3000 Basic became VB.net. Other clients have been the Medford Schools, BASF International (both to Fujitsu) and the Jewelers Board of Trade and the Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System (both to AcuCobol). The experience set also runs to the Micro Focus COBOL product lineup.

Projects for 3000 migrations are bid by lines of code to be moved. Screens in VPlus are converted to WebForms or WinForms for Windows-bound migrations. For systems headed to a Linux or Unix platform, the forms are converted to screen sections or JavaServer pages.

The typically knotty problem of replacing HP intrinsics is handled by rewrites into COBOL or a language the migrating site chooses. MPE JCL is converted to Windows or Unix command scripts. If there's a scripting language a site prefers, VerraDyne can target that as well.

"Every site has some of that specialized MPE/iX functionality," McRitchie said. He added that a migrated system, whether landing on a Windows VB.NET or C# program base, or in software converted to Java for Unix, is delivered completely compatible. "Bug for bug compatible," he quipped, following the fundamental best practices for every migration: what's running successfully on a 3000 will run on the new migrated platform.

IMAGE migration practices move data to SQL Server, Oracle, or other databases selected by a site. Any third party indexes used, such as Omnidex, are converted to database indexes or views. All relations between tables like automatic or manual masters are preserved. Conversion programs are included to convert IMAGE data from the HP 3000 to a selected database. VerraDyne provides source to migration all IMAGE intrinsics such as DBOPEN, DBUPDATE, or DBPUT.

In-house code that's migrated, as it always has been, lets a site retain the heavy investment made in highly customized systems applications. Preservation of resources has been what's kept HP 3000s running well into their second decade of post-HP manufacture.

Migrations of 3000 in-house systems are likely to come from sites that have been running applications since before the 1990s. McRitchie and his consulting partners Tony Blinco and Masoud Entezari have experience that runs back to the days when 3000 disks were large enough to vibrate when they were busiest. "They'd rub the paint off each other," he said with a wistful chuckle, sounding very much like an expert seasoned in servers which are several decades older than when first booted. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:55 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 11, 2018

Rootstock acquires ERP vendor Kenandy

Rootstock logoThe world of cloud-based ERP got a rumble today when Rootstock acquired competitor Kenandy. The Support Group is a MANMAN-ERP service firm that's got a Kenandy migration in its resume by this year, after moving Disston Tools off MANMAN and onto Kenandy. Support Group president Terry Floyd said the combination of the two leading cloud ERP companies looks like good news for the market.

"They're scaling up to get new business," he said, after sending us the tip about the connection of the firms. He compared the acquisition to the period in the 1990s when Computer Associates absorbed ASK Computer and MANMAN.

"After CA bought MANMAN, they kept on putting out releases and putting money into the company," Floyd said. "Salesforce must be behind this acquisition in some way."

Kenandy and Rootstock's software is built upon Salesforce and its Force platform and toolsets. A thorough article on the Diginomica website says that the deal was a result of a set of opportunities around a mega-deal and a key leader for a new unit at Kenandy. The plans to combine forces for the vendors include keeping development in play for both Rootstock and Kenandy products.

The Diginomica reporting by Brian Sommer says that Kenandy has a significant number of software engineers and a strong financial executive. "It's the talent [at Kenandy] that makes the deal fortuitous," Sommer wrote, "as Rootstock was ramping up for a lot expensive and time-consuming recruiting activity." Rootsource, by taking on the vendor with a product that's replaced a 3000 at a discrete manufacturer, "is of more consequence to Salesforce."

Vendors like the Support Group seem likely to benefit from the acquisition. By Sommer's reckoning, Salesforce might not have known which vendor among its network of ERP partners to call for manufacturing prospects. "Now one call will [send] the right response and product onto the prospect."

ERP mergers don't always have this level of synergy. When Oracle bought JD Edwards/Peoplesoft, there was friction and disconnect between the organizations. Floyd said that as a result of the Kenandy acquisition, "There may be new business for us." Companies like the Support Group supply the front-line experience to migrate 3000 manufacturers to a cloud platform.

Expertise like what's been shown from TSG makes cloud ERP an attractive step forward for MANMAN sites ready to make a move. Rootstock's CEO Pat Gerrehy said that developing best practices aid manufacturers in migrating from legacy ERP.

“When it comes to cloud ERP implementations, customer success is often determined by how you implement, not just what you implement,” said Garrehy. “Our combined company is dedicated to making the transition from legacy ERP easier for our customers. We welcome Kenandy customers into the Rootstock fold.”

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:46 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 20, 2017

Replacement hardware archives key context

Wayback Wednesday

The replacement hardware arrived in a box that fit inside my mailbox. We bought a jumbo-sized mailbox in 1993, one big enough to let the industry trade journals lie flat on its floor. In those days our community relied on big tabloid publications to keep abreast of the future. Today the pages are digital and needing paper for news is fading fast.

MD RecorderThe Minidisc MZ-R50 showed up in great working order, a replacement for the recorder that logged my interviews in the rowdy and roiling days of the 3000's Transition Era. The Minidisc is late '90s tech that can arrive by way of US Mail. A Series 929 wouldn't fit in any cardboard box with padding. That server is 104 pounds of a 2-foot by 18-inch unit that's 22 inches high. UPS could pull it off a truck, though.

My 1997 MZ-R50 has the same age as a Series 997, and like the 3000 server, the hardware has unlocked access to archival information. You buy these things to replace failed hardware, or sometimes for parts. Only the battery had failed on the R50. That's a component likely to be dead on old 3000s, too.

I plucked a Minidisc at random to test my new unit and found an interview about how Interex decided to put distance between itself and Hewlett-Packard. I wrote about the change in the relationship in 2004, but just a fraction of the interview made it into the NewsWire.

The thing about archival data is it can grow more valuable over time. Context is something that evolves as history rolls on. In the late summer of 2004 it wasn't obvious that Interex was overplaying its hand, reaching for a risk to sell the value of a vendor-specific user group. HP told the group's board of directors that user group support was going to be very different in 2005. The reaction to the news sealed the fate of the group. It began with a survey, shifted to a staff recommendation, and ended up as a board decision.

The recorded 2004 interview now puts those views and choices in context. You'll care about this if you ever need a user group, wonder how your enterprise vendor will support customers' desires, or hope to understand how corporate resources influence partnerships.

The key interview quote that made its way into our "HP World stands at brink of changes" report was a line from then-board president Denys Beauchemin. “We’re not competing with HP,” Beauchemin said about HP World 2005. “HP’s going to be there next year. HP will scale back drastically.” The scaling back was a correct assessment. The competition turned out to change everything.

The demise of a 31-year-old user group might seem like an inevitability from a 2017 perspective. Connect is the user group serving anyone in the HP Enterprise market today. It's joined by the small CAMUS user society, the same one that discussed and uncovered the strategy to get beyond the year 2027 with MPE/iX. Membership in both groups is free. Back in 2004 those were $99 memberships, with thousands to count on.

The rescued recording from that chat with Beauchemin gave me context a-plenty to absorb.

What HP said is they have four user group events to go to next year. They're trying to cut back. They're trying to do an HP-produced show and invited user groups to attend.

HP aimed to replace its spending on user group-run HP shows with one event. Cutting back was always going to happen in the plan. Interex got notice a year before it collapsed that HP's spending was going to drop.

If we decide to do our own thing, then HP will be at HP World in San Francisco — but it would not be with the same presence they had in the past. No huge booth. They will scale back drastically. They would sponsor and endorse HP World. It's not like they're yanking the rug out from under us, not at all.

There was no rug-pulling. The deck of the Good Ship User Expo Floor was tilting hard, though. HP said it was going to do enough of a show to let user groups will share revenues from an HP Expo “to support and sustain those organizations," adding that "The user groups’ charters are not to drive revenue and profit, but to train end-users in a way that the groups can recover costs.”

The revenue and profit was the charter of any Interex show. An organization with teeth needs to be fed. Now Interex had a competitor: the vendor at its own heart. Customers and vendors had a choice to make about conferences.

They respect the independence of Interex. They really like the advocacy survey and all of the other stuff we do— which is very much in keeping with our screaming at HP, but in a nice way.

The screaming was customer communication that dated back to the 1980s. A management roundtable was a publicity and customer relations minefield starting in the 1990s. Interex considered itself an advocacy group first. The engine of its enterprises, though, was booth sales for its annual expo.

If we were to go with HP in their mega-event, the impact would be in terms of the independence of third party folks we could have at the show. 

The archival recording off my replacement hardware took note of the kinds of vendors who'd never make it onto an HP-run expo floor. Competitors in systems, in storage, in services. Interex needed those prospects to fill up a healthy show floor.

To his credit, Beauchemin and the board recognized HP was essential to the conference's survival. 

If HP were to say it wasn’t interested in going to San Francisco in 2005, then we would have an issue. They haven't said they'd do that. HP is trying to cut back on the number of events they go to — especially the ones that are not in their control.

The group used this decision process about control: First, survey members about moving closer to HP and giving up independence—and learning that 55 percent favored that move. Then the user group staff got a shot at developing a recommendation about staying independent or ceding control of the conference to HP. Finally, the board took a vote based on that recommendation. There was a short timeframe to decide.

HP World 2004 is fast approaching. We need a story to tell about HP World 2005.

It's easy to see, in the context of 2017, that a user group staff would recommend staying on a course to keep projects and jobs in group control. It's hard to see how a board would vote to oppose any recommendation of joining with HP. So there was an approval to stay at a distance from HP. Cutting across the desires of any organization's managers is tough. What turned out to be just as hard was finding enough revenue to keep the organization alive.

The exhibitors and community leaders who helped found the group already saw a show that focused elsewhere. The fate of HP World had more impact on the 3000 customers who are leaving the platform than those who staying to homestead.

“It’s all focused on migration,” said Terry Floyd of the ERP support company the Support Group. “I expect that a lot of the 3000 people at HP World will be looking for HP 9000 solutions. We’re sending someone to talk to partners on the Unix and Integrity side.”

Pursuing a bigger relationship with partners who competed with HP had a huge cost. It was a risk that the group couldn't afford by the next year. One of the most senior members of the 3000 community said the end was in sight for Interex.

“HP would rather not spend another dime on something that has no future with them,” Olav Kappert said. “It will first be SIG-IMAGE, then other HP 3000 SIGs will follow. Somewhere in between, maybe even Interex will disappear.”

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:40 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 11, 2017

Still migrating after all these years

Project-scheduleI began writing about migrations only in 2001, after HP decided that moving was the way forward for 3000 folk. I already had 17 years on the 3000 beat by then. Much has happened over these last 16 years, and yet, less than you would think in some places. Companies began in earnest to move away from MPE/iX, sometimes for very good reasons. For example, if your application vendor starts sending you end-of-life warnings for your software, it's a good time to plan for a trip away from an HP 3000.

At other kinds of companies, migration seemed to be the safest way forward. Starting sooner than later was part of the 3000 ethos, too. That ethos might be one reason why some 3000 customers were working in their second decade of departing the 3000. The apps that were not broken didn't have to replaced right away, did they?

Eleven years have gone by since I produced this 8-minute podcast about one of those customers. From the very first year of the Transition Era we knew about the Speedware shop at Virginia International Terminals. VIT was a success story HP shared with its uncertain customers. VIT made the move to HP's Unix and all was well.

However, more than four years later (in 2006) not everything was moved off the 3000. Earlier this year we heard from someone at VIT about replacing their final MPE/iX app. This year. An interesting thing happened on the way to the exit. First they found the job bigger than they could handle themselves. To their credit, their IT management saw a bigger picture. Why just have a functional migrated application? You want it as efficient as it can be.

Back in 2006 VIT thought that way. It tested its migration about 18 months later than expected. Not everything made its way through that assisted migration process. VIT must have found a way to let migration pay its way, permitting a bit of functional MPE/iX to be left alone. Our 2006 podcast talks about the Why of a migration, as well as what happens when that Why changes.

Start to finish from 2002-2017 might be the longest term of any migration. A good 3000 manager doesn't care how long it takes. They care if it's done right—and on the schedule that best suits their organization. The podcast made a point back then which continues to be true. It's your calendar that matters.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:15 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Podcasts, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 08, 2017

Distributor seeks 3000 experts for contract

Help-wantedIt doesn't happen often, but the 3000 world has a request for experts in the employment market. Dwight Demming at National Wine & Spirits posted a notice yesterday, saying he needed two to three "HP 3000 programmers to work on a year-long project."

NWS has been a 3000 user since the 1990s, running an in-house application that tracks shipping of, well, wine and spirits. The customer has always been a forward-looking shop. A few years back the company in Oak Brook Illinois was using Hillary Software's byRequest to move its email and PDF from the 3000 to computers in the rest of the IT environment. byRequest is built to extract and distribute reporting from any HP 3000 application.

Kim Borgman of National Wine & Spirits said at the time, "We [use it to] e-mail all our reports now. Hardly any printing happens on the line printer anymore." byRequest will support secure FTP as well as standard FTP.

The current assignment at the company calls for programmers who are "highly skilled in COBOL, Image/SQL, and VPlus. The work can be done remotely, Demming said in his posting, "with occasional visits to Oak Brook."

The biggest payoff for the employment offer might be in the final line of Demming's post: "Possibly leading to full-time employment." That might be HP 3000 and MPE/iX work, or it might be work on a migrated platform. But a year's worth of HP 3000 work starting around 2018 is a benefit few people could have forseen back when HP turned off its MPE/iX lab lights seven years ago.

Applications for the jobs can be sent to Demming at his email address.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:21 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 06, 2017

Staying on target is tough for 3000's exiles

3000 firing squadThe perspective of tech veterans who left the 3000 community used to sway opinions of those who remained. Vendors sold services like support or software for MPE/iX. Then HP made sales difficult by striking the 3000 off its price lists. So the vendors and IT pros who couldn't make a sale or a living left our world. Some departed and remained wistful and respectful of what HP created for MPE/iX. Others have not done so. They departed and began to disrespect and mock the tech solution that made them a pro.

It makes no sense, they've now said for more than a decade, to put any more resources into MPE/iX or a 3000. Some exiles once lined up a 3000 in a cornfield and shot it up with weapons. The act was an effort at comedy. (A great actor on his deathbed reminded the world that dying was easy, and comedy is hard.) The cornfield gunfire was ruthless because those shooters were targeting a legacy.

The bullets hit the computer, but the shooters were off target. The firing squad treatment included an arsenal worthy of Yosemite Sam. A cannon missed the mark and had to be wheeled closer. The buffoons acted out a fantasy, the finale of what they called “an HP 3000 mainframe computer.” 

Those shots felt the same as those the 3000's devotees have endured in the Migration Era. The era is just about over, but so many of its exits were based on fears of parts inventories gone dry or a lack of vendor attention. Some vendors turned on their community, stoking new business by running down the old success. Those parts are rare, they say, and you can pay us to help you change your mind. HP ran aground with its strategies for computing. Now the CEO is leaving and saying that technology wisdom has a better chance of hitting the value target than business experience.

The web, social media, and even 20-year-old mailing lists have made civil speech an endangered species. It's not professional or honest to label a line of work, and those who do it, as "stupid." That ignorant distain has given us Fake News and Alternative Facts. Crackpots and nincompoops make for outlandish exiles. Building something up by tearing something else down still remains Bad Form, as Captain Hook said in Peter Pan. Misfires on migrations have turned three-year exits into 12-year boondoggles. 

I'm sitting on a story about one of those odysseys. After HP gave the 3000 a bum's rush to the business door, the exiles' potshots at MPE's value rang out. Catcalls at MPE from the 3000's exiles won't put such odysseys on course. The simple math of taking four times longer to do something than planned—well, that's a True Fact, even if it's not often told. The target for why anything happens can be tough to find. When life doesn't turn out as you hoped, and your 3000 lifetime doesn't last, taking blind shots at a legacy always looked like going off half-cocked.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:35 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 24, 2017

Giving Thanks for Exceeding All Estimates

Thanksgiving-Table-2013
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise sailed into the Thanksgiving holiday beating estimates. The company eked out a "beat" of analyst estimates for quarterly profits, exceeding the forecasts by 1 percent. Overall the fiscal year 2017 results for sales were flat ($37.4 billion) and year-to-year earnings fell. Even that tepid report beat estimates. Nobody's expecting HP Enterprise to rise up soon. Keeping its place is a win.

It's about the same spot the HP 3000 and MPE/iX have shared for some time. After the exodus of migrators tailed off, the community has been losing few of its remaining members. A slice of them met Nov. 16 on a call. Someone asked if there was anything like a user group left for 3000 owners. I was tempted to say "this is it" to the CAMUS members on the line. Someone offered an opinion that the 465 members of the 3000 newsgroup were a user group.

I'm thankful there's still a 3000 community to report to here in 2017. We've exceeded estimates too. Nobody could have estimated that the HP 3000 and MPE/iX would last long enough to try to resolve the 2028 date handling changes. Hewlett-Packard once expected 80 percent of its customers would be migrated by 2006. That was an estimate which was not exceeded, or even met.

I'm grateful for keeping my storytelling and editing lively during this year, halfway through my 61st. I've got my health and vigor to count on, riding more than 2,000 miles this year on my bike around the Hill Country. I'm grateful for family—lovely bride, grandchildren to chase and photograph—and for the fortunes that flow in my life, the work of book editor, coach and seasoned journalist.

HP's steering back to its roots by replacing a sales CEO with a technology expert in Antonio Neri. “The next CEO of the company needs to be a deeper technologist, and that’s exactly what Antonio is," Meg Whitman said on a conference call discussing HPE's succession plan. I can also be grateful for that appreciation of a technologist's vision. Like the death notices for MPE/iX, the fall of technology on the decision ladder was overstated. In 2006 I talked with an HP executive who believed "the time of the technologist" had passed. Strategy was going to trump technology.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise isn't eager to count up its business selling its servers. The report from last week needed this caveat to claim earnings were up for 2017

Net revenue was up 6 percent year over year, excluding Tier-1 server sales and when adjusted for divestitures and currency.

The most recent quarter's results included HP's cut-out of large server sales, too. "When you can't count the numbers that are important, you make the numbers you can count important," said think tanks about Vietnam war results. There are been casualties while HP let non-engineers call the shots. If Hewlett-Packard Enterprise can be led by an engineer for the first time since Lew Platt's 1990s term, then technology has exceeded corporate estimates of its relevance. Our readers learned about their tech bits long ago. We're grateful to have them remain attentive to our pages.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:31 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 22, 2017

Whitman leaves HP better than she found it

WhitmanHP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman is stepping down from the company's leadership seat, effective January 31, 2018. After her run of more than six years it can be argued Whitman is leaving an HP in better shape than she found the corporation. One measure of her success lies in HPE's revenue growth in spite of headwinds, as the analysts call challenges like cloud competition. That fact can be offset with the number of layoffs during her tenure. Most estimates put that figure at more than 30,000, an employment disruption that ranges even wider when accounting for divestitures and the split-up of HP.

Numbers don't say enough about Whitman's impact on the future of the vendor which invented HP 3000s and MPE. After a string of three CEOs who ended their terms disgraced or fired, she brought a steady gait to a company in desperate need of a reunion with its roots. The Hewlett-Packard of the 1980s delivered the greatest success to MPE customers. In hand-picking Antonio Neri as her successor, Whitman has returned HP to its 20th Century roots. The Enterprise arm of HP will be led by an engineer who's worked only for HP. The last time that was true, Lew Platt was CEO of an HP that was still in one piece, instead of the two of 2017.

Hewlett-Packard finally made that transition into two companies on Whitman's watch, after a decade when the printer-server split was debated around the industry. She also pruned away the leafy branches that made the HP tree wider but no taller: Autonomy and other ill-matched acquisitions were cut loose. She said in an interview on CNBC today that the time for "supermarket IT" suppliers is gone, and the future belongs to the fast. Whitman's years reversed some damage at HP, which at least beat analyst estimates for its Q4 earnings. 

"What If" was once an ad slogan for Hewlett-Packard. The question could be posed around Whitman's role at the company. What if this executive woman took HP's reins in 1999? She was already a CEO in that year at eBay. From the way Whitman has brought HP's headlong blundering to heel, she might have kept the company focused on the mission of the current day's HP Enterprise.

The rise of mobile computing and off-premise IT was always going to hound HP, a corporation built to sell specialized hardware and proprietary software. Passing the baton to an engineer leader—Neri started in the HP EMEA call center—shows Whitman knows more about HP's culture than anyone who's had the CEO job since 1999. She remains on HP's board and said she'll be available for sales calls in the future, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:41 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 20, 2017

Was news of CALENDAR's end Fake News?

Fake-NewsHP 3000 customers, support experts, and vendors have heard a fresh take on the upcoming demise of CALENDAR functions. Date keeping was going to suffer for anybody who needed that intrinsic to steer 3000 date-keeping. Nobody wanted to debate that fact. As I reported in 2015, with considerable help from Vesoft's Vladimir Volokh, CALENDAR doesn't have enough bits to track dates beyond December 31, 2027. It would be easy to conclude the 3000's date capability will go bust at the end of that December.

That's fake news, said Steve Cooper of Allegro to everyone on last week's CAMUS user group call. "A whole lot of fake news," he said, when one user referenced our 2015 article as proof dates were going to be a problem on 3000s in about 10 years. "You need to get the true scoop instead of spreading rumors."

Cooper was one of several 3000 experts who said that dates could be kept accurately in MPE/iX for much longer than 10 years from the end of next month. HP's replacement for CALENDAR—an intrinsic written in the early 1970s—adds bits to let 3000s track data. HPCALENDAR isn't employed inside lots of MPE/iX software, but that will change for anyone who wants their MPE/iX end of life to be determined by utility and value, rather than capability.

In 2015, our story asked Whether the End of 2027 is MPE's End, Too. It isn't, so long as you use HPCALENDAR to replace CALENDAR. MPE/iX app managers will need source code access to make this kind of substitution, using the new intrinsic method of remediation.

There was also talk of a pivot point strategy to handle things without replacing CALENDAR. Pivot points were in vogue for some Y2K repairs. In such designs, software processes a date by comparing the date to the moment it processes the date. The old ColdFusion software from Microsoft did this to add century information for Y2K, for example. A Stack Overflow discussion illustrates how pivot points work in Python.

HPCALENDAR will give MPE/iX date-handling capability that exceeds that of Unix. I reported that in 2015, thanks to help from Vladimir.

HP advised its 3000 customers in 2008 to begin using HPCALENDAR on HP 3000s. HPCALENDAR harks back to version 5.5 of MPE/iX. Its power lies in the 3000 for use by programmers who want accurate dates beyond 2038 (the limit in Unix) for application files.

HP ordered 16 extra bits for date handling through HPCALENDAR in the 1990s, just too late to influence the heart of MPE.

While working in the realm of those original 16-bit MPE intrinsics, "You cannot make less than 9 bits for the date of the year," Vladimir said. "That would be less than 365 days. So that leaves us 7 bits to express the year."

The '90s HPCALENDAR, reaching into the new elbow room of 32 bits, can use as many as 23 bits for the year. That intrinsic will cover 8 million years, even more. HPCALENDAR is available in Native Mode MPE, and it remains the best choice for any new work done on a 3000's applications.

But MPE's existing intrinsics provide the barrier here: the oldest are in Segmented Library (SL)—and the newer HPCALENDAR is in Native Library (NL). And the only companies with any chance of adjusting the 3000's dates into 2028 and beyond are those which have insight into MPE/iX source. Then there's knowing what to do with it. They must get into the MPE source and recompile it to use HPCALENDAR.

That insight into MPE/iX source is needed for a system-wide repair of CALENDAR date intrinsic functionality. It's a broad spectrum fix, though, when a localized alteration will do the job. Even HP's own SHOWCLOCK gets the date correct when you boot a system by setting its date for 2028.

"There are still some pieces of code that are doing date handling by calling CALENDAR," Cooper said. "But the operating system does not fall over dead at that point. The banner will say "1900" and if you do a SHOWTIME it will say 1900. But if you do a SHOWCLOCK it will correctly show '2028'."

Reading a file, modifying a file: these will occur with the correct timestamps. They all use the larger, more modern date format. Programs which use CALENDAR will provide a date in the 1900s when run on 2028. The date-keeping in the MPE/iX banner is going to be incorrect. Any software that reaches out for a date intrinsic will be just fine if it uses HPCALENDAR.

The user group has its board member Ed Stein to thank for the talk about the date changes coming up in a decade or so. Stein says that he'd rather seek out date repairs now for his 3000s, while there are still support and development experts taking on projects. There's a lot less retirement going on for people working in their late 70s. But Stein, like a lot of 3000 pros, understands it's better to take care of things before they become unsolvable problems—when there's nobody working who knows where CALENDAR might be running inside a program on MPE/iX.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:20 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 13, 2017

HP's shrinkage includes iconic HQ address

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Hewlett-Packard pointed at a shrinking ecosystem as a reason to cut down its futures for the 3000. Time in the post-HP world for MPE/iX moves into its Year Number 17 starting tomorrow . That's right; the Transition Era completes its 16th year tomorrow at about 1PM. Transitions aren't over, either. In the meantime, MPE's clock now starts catching up with Hewlett-Packard's headquarters. The iconic address of 3000 Hanover Street in Palo Alto will not be HP's much longer. On the subject of icons, that's a oscilloscope wave to the left of the original HP logo on the building above.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 12.09.17 PMHP is moving its corporate throne to a company and a building in Santa Clara soon. The existing HQ has been in service since 1957, but consolidations in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—which also has a shrinking ecosystem—mandated the move. The offices of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the shrines to the HP Way, management by walking around, and the shirt-pocket calculator designs, will be packed up sometime next year. The HQ look of Silicon Valley's first corporation is distinctive.

Hewlett-packard-original-officesEverything has its lifespan, from ideas to the office desks where overseas currency and coins lay on blotters, resting in the side-by-side rooms Hewlett and Packard used. The coins and bills represented the worldwide reach of the company, left on the desk as a reminder of how far-flung HP's customers were. HPE's CEO Meg Whitman said HPE consolidations are part of making HP Enterprise more efficient.

Dave Packard coins"I’m excited to move our headquarters to an innovative new building that provides a next-generation digital experience for our employees, customers and partners," Whitman said. "Our new building will better reflect who HPE is today and where we are heading in the future."

Companies which use HP's hardware to run MPE/iX might also see efficiency as one benefit of moving out of their use of HP's servers. A virtual platform, based on Intel and Linux, is hosting MPE/iX. Charon goes into its sixth year of MPE/iX service later this month.

A customer could look at that Hanover Street address, which will be without HP for the first time since Eisenhower was President, and see a reduction. HP Enterprise will be sharing office space with Aruba, a wireless networking firm HPE acquired in 2015. Aruba also has big hopes for cloud computing. Cloud is the future for HPE growth, according to the company. HPE is cutting out 5,000 jobs by year's end. The workforce might be considered a part of the HPE ecosystem, too.

Office buildings certainly have to be considered part of an ecosystem for a corporation. Important elements? Perhaps, if only because the statement they make about a company's permanence and continuity. The HPE Aruba building HQ will surpass Hanover Street in longevity by 2077.

In 60 years when MPE/iX apps will run somewhere, if only in a museum, they will be on a virtualized platform. As it turns out, the ecosystem for software—the embodiment of an idea—is more durable than any corporation's. MPE/iX will catch up with the HP HQ lifespan in 2033. When a customer takes custom engineering into 2028, it's just a five-year lifespan to surpass Hanover Street. Ideas have a permanence buildings can wish for. Those ideas get such permanence while they remain useful.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:45 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)