November 14, 2018

It's always a red letter day today

You can use shorthand and say "November 2001." Or you can say the day that HP's 3000 music died. November 14 still marks the start of the post-HP era for MPE/iX as well as the 3000 hardware HP sold. It took another two years to stop selling the PA-RISC servers the company had just revamped with new models months before the exit-the-market announcement. PCI-based N-Class and A-Class, the market hardly knew ye before you were branded as legacy technology.

For a few years I stopped telling this story on the anniversary, but 12 years ago I cut a podcast about the history of this enterprise misstep. (Listen by clicking the graphic above) HP lost its faith in 2001 but the customers hadn't lost theirs and the system did not lose its life. Not after November 14 and even not today. Not a single server has been manufactured since late 2003, and even that lack of new iron hasn't killed MPE/iX. The Stromasys emulator Charon will keep the OS running in production even beyond the January 2028 date MPE/iX is supposed to stop keeping accurate dates. 

Red Letter Days were so coined because they appeared on church calendars in red. They marked the dates set aside for saints. In 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer included a calendar with holy days marked in red ink; for example, Annunciation (Lady Day), 25th March. These were high holy days and holidays. The HP 3000 came into HP's product line on a November in 1972. November is a Happening read the banners in the HP Data Systems Division. No day of that month was specified, but you might imagine it was November 14, 1972. That was a Tuesday, while the 2001 date fell on a Wednesday. A total of 1,508 weeks of HP interest.

Something important happened in that other November of 29 years later. Hewlett-Packard sent its customers into independent mode. Those who remained faithful have had a day to mark each year, logging the number of years they've created their own future. It's 17 and counting as of today.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:51 AM in History, News Outta HP, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Get e-mail notice when the NewsWire blog gets a new entry. Just say "Blog Me" in a message to [email protected].

November 07, 2018

Wayback: A month to download 3000 Jazz

Jazz-announcement
Ten years ago this month HP was advising its customers to get free software while it was still online. HP said that its Jazz web server was going dark because its 3000 labs would end operations on Dec. 31. Maintained by HP's lab staff, Jazz was being unplugged after 12 years. The software played an essential role in getting the 3000 into the Internet age. Eventually HP learned to market the server as the e3000.

Bootstrapping development fundamentals such as the GNU Tools, the open source gcc compiler, and utilities ported by independent developer Mark Klein had a home on Jazz for a decade. More than 80 other programs were hosted on the server, some with HP support and others ported and created by HP but unsupported by the vendor.

The software is still online 10 years later. Fresche Solutions, which began as Speedware, continues to host Jazz programs and papers at hpmigrations.com/HPe3000_resources. HP was clear in 2008 that customers had better grab what they needed before Jazz went unplugged. HP wasn't going to move the downloadable programs onto the IT Resource Center servers to doc.hp.com.

"Anything that people will need they should download before Dec. 31, 2008," said business manager Jennie Hou. "That's our recommendation."

The list of programs online is long and worth a visit for a 3000 manager looking for help to keep MPE/iX well connected to their datacenter. HP created more than a dozen open source programs which it even supported as of 2008. The list is significant.

• Apache
• BIND
• Many command files
• dnscheck
• Porting Scanner
• Porting Wrappers
• Samba
• The System Inventory Utility
• Syslog
• WebWise

Open source software produced or ported as unsupported freeware by HP includes

• JServ
• NTP
• OpenSSL
• Perl
• Sendmail

Open source software produced/ported by individuals:

• Analog
• autoconf
• bash
• gdbm
• Glimpse
• ht://Dig
• mmencode/sendmime
• MPE::CIvar
• MPE::IMAGE
• NetPBM
• OpenLDAP
• Ploticus
• Python
• SAURCS
• SLS
• texinfo
• Tidy
• TIFF library
• wget

Binary-only software produced/ported and "supported" by HP:

• CRYPT
• DBUTIL
• Firmware
• Java
• LDAP
• LineJet Utilities
• Patch/iX
• VERSION
• VT3K

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:03 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 31, 2018

Another If-Only Salvation, this time Linux

John Young Lulu
This man launched Red Hat out of a sewing closet, a firm that just sold for $34 billion. HP had a shot at buying Red Hat, too.

IBM announced it's buying Red Hat, paying an all-cash price of $34 billion to help make Big Blue relevant in cloud computing. While investors hated on the deal in the markets, others like Robert Cringley said it makes sense for Big Blue to own Red Hat. It's a color wheel that's spinning around IBM's enterprises. The ones that are the oldest might be those that stand to gain the most. It's the word "most" that reminds us how HP might have salvaged the future of MPE, if only with a deal to bring open source to enterprise customers.

One of my favorite readers, Tim O'Neill, sent along a message about RedHat + IBM. He said that this acquisition could have been done long ago—so long, in fact, that Hewlett-Packard could have executed it before the company stopped believing in MPE/iX. That would have been in the late 1990s, happening to a company that was deeply invested in two technologies just about played out today: Itanium and HP-UX. HP had faith enough in Itanium to stake its enterprise future for its biggest customers on the chips.

As for HP-UX, the OS that HP set out to devour 3000 opportunities, it remains to this day an environment that runs only on HP's architecture. HP used to snicker at Linux and open source options in those late 1990s. One presentation that sticks in my memory has an HP manager presenting a slide of a cartoon drawing of an open source support expert. He's a guy in a goatee slouching in a bean bag chair, mouthing "Dude" in a cartoon balloon.

HP meant to tell the audience that getting Linux support from HP was much more professional. Another message the cartoon sent was that Linux really was something dominated by open source nerds. Just about 20 years later the Revenge of the Nerds moment has arrived with a $34 billion payday. For some reference on that number, recall that HP gave up about $25 billion to purchase Compaq, a company with factories as well as labs.

HP used to have a slogan in the 1980s for advertising its PCs: What If? The IBM acquisition triggers the what-if thinking about Linux as in, "What if HP might have purchased the leading distro for Linux and used it to improve its proprietary environments' futures?" Would it have helped in any way to have a true open source platform, rather than just environments that were called "open systems?" The difference between an open source and an open system matters the most to developers and vendors, not to system makers. If Red Hat Linux might have helped MPE/iX look more open, at a source level, who knows how the 3000's prospects might have changed.

The melding and overlay of operating environments as different as Linux and MPE/iX had been tried before at HP, more than eight years before the company made its way away from the enterprise computing HP Way. In 1993 the project was HP MOST, one where I did some writing for Hewlett-Packard about a world where everybody could live together. Cats and dogs, Unix and MPE XL, all working together.

1993 was also the year that Bob Young, working out of his wife's sewing closet, started Red Hat. By the time HP hired a CEO who made a beeline to buy Compaq, Red Hat went public and Young retired. (To the publishing industry to do something called "self-publishing." Wonder how that worked out?) A forward-looking HP might have decided to invest in software by 1999 rather than more hardware in that Compaq purchase. Then armed with the technology that matters the most to applications — the OS platform — the 3000 vendor could have used Linux as a means to bring together proprietary power like MPE/iX with open source access.

MOST wanted to do just that, with MPE being the command module and HP-UX being the excursion module that would bring in the applications. It was a project that acknowledged the strengths of both kinds of technology, something open and something efficient. It ran dog-slow in the few spots where HP beta tested it. HP MOST had no serious love in a salesforce selling Unix everywhere that MPE/iX was installed. "If you build it, they will sell it" was an HP concept at the time, but the amount of sales in that formula were usually disappointing.

Now IBM has donned its Red Hat and some of its least open-sourced projects have a chance to benefit. I know an engineer inside IBM who's a lifelong AIX support expert. AIX is the equivalent of HP-UX, and much like HP's Unix, that OS runs best on IBM's proprietary architecture. This Red Hat deal "will be really good for POWER," the engineer said to me. We were both wearing costumes at a Halloween party while he said it, but there was no trick in his thinking. When a vendor is entrenched in its own inventions it can lose sight of what's succeeding better. IBM might have bought Red Hat too late. It's the kind of daring move that has kept that company in one piece, though. 

HP invested deeper into being a commodity computing company when it bought Compaq, adding nothing but the VMS legacy to its software assets. That legacy lifted VMS into the lead in investing in Itanium. The smaller customer set of 3000s was put aside so VMS could get its technical makeover for the proprietary Itanium platform. Now that Itanium has cratered and VMS has been sold off to VMS Inc. and Linux is ruling the future of cloud platforms, it's time to wonder — if only Linux could have been married to MPE/iX and PA-RISC, what might have been?

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:01 PM in History, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 24, 2018

Wed Wayback: India rises, California rests

HP-3000-lab-Bangalore-1995

As we rolled out the NewsWire 23 years ago this month we tracked a new element in the HP engineering lineup. Resources  Sterlingwere being added from India. By the time a couple of Octobers rolled past in 1997 we published our first Q&A interview with Harry Sterling. He'd just assumed the leadership of the 3000 division at HP, bringing an R&D lab leader into the general manager's post for the first time. Sterling was the best GM the 3000 ever had because his habits flowed from customer contact. The labs developed a routine with customer councils and visits as a major part.

SartainThat Indian element was integrating in earnest by 1997. MPE/iX development was a serious part of HP's work in Bangalore, India. It was becoming common to see India engineers giving technical talks at user group meetings. IMAGE lab manager Jim Sartain, who worked for Sterling, was essential in adding Indian engineering to keep the 3000's lab headcount abreast of customer needs.

Bangalore is more than twelve hours ahead of the time zone in California, the state where the 3000 labs were working in 1997. We asked Sterling about how he was integrating the Indian workers with his Cupertino CSY labs.

So the actual head count in CSY's California labs doesn't matter?

No. Our solution teams are made of engineers in Bangalore and in Cupertino. It's a virtual team. It's not like Bangalore does this set of solutions and we do that set of solutions. We don't carve it up that way because we have mirror images of the different projects.

Why is the Bangalore connection working as well as it is?

We've created an environment where our engineers have been able to establish personal relationships with the engineers at Bangalore. For example, they've often been there. One time or another over the last 18 months most of the engineers from Bangalore, at least certainly all of the leads, have been to Cupertino for some period of time. We have pictures of their whole organization in our hallways so we know who they are. We know what they look like. We know, in many cases, we know about their families and it's like another HP employee just happens to be on the other side of the world.

They're real people to us, a part of the team. And that's what's made it work for us. We don't just treat them like we've subcontracted some of our work to a team in India. There are some HP organizations that treat them that way, but we've had a much greater success. They are so proud to be a part of CSY. They have a big sign that says CSY Bangalore.

They don't view themselves as being part of HP's Enterprise Systems Organization structure. They view themselves as being part of CSY. We've effectively carved out 70 people that we fund and are considered HP employees. Administratively, they report up through ESO because of local country culture things and that kind of issue. But, effectively from a working relationship, we view them as part of our organization.

You've been with HP a long time, long enough to remember when there used to be development of HP 3000 solutions in places other than the United States.

As a matter of fact, when I worked on the materials management product, in parallel they were working on the financial equivalent -- FA, if you remember, in Germany. We worked very closely together. I spent four months over there when we were mobilizing products.

How does that differ from what's happening today between Bangalore and Cupertino?

Back then we carved out a chunk of the charter. They did the financials. We did the manufacturing. We kind of shared the tools, and that part of it didn't work really well. I think the difference is, with this model it's a joint ownership. And I think there's a lot of sensitivity on our part to the cultural differences, and there are some. As a matter of fact, we're sending our managers through a special training class in the next couple of weeks focused specifically around India. And the differences and the cultures and the things that we need to be aware of. And we're going to do the same thing for them about the American culture. There's more sensitivity to the differences.

I understand the division will be able to call on some people in India who are reaching architect status, some a little faster than you've been able to grow an architect for the 3000. Why do you think that is? Is there a difference in the way that they approach problems?

I believe part of it is cultural. There's a real commitment to their work. I think that the other part of it is that there is some very, very strong talent in Bangalore. We have a former college professor working on our file system. It's pretty amazing.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:07 AM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 19, 2018

Wayback: HP's prop-up in a meltdown week

TradersTen years ago this week the HP shareholder community got a slender boost amid a storm of financial crisis around the world. While the US economy was in a meltdown, Hewlett-Packard -- still a single company -- made a fresh promise to buy back its stock for $8 billion. Companies of HP's size were being labelled Too Big to Fail. The snarl of the banking collapse would be a turning point for a Presidential election. A Wall Street Journal article on the buybacks called HP's move a display of strength. HP wanted to ensure its market capitalization wouldn't take a pounding.

HP was electing to pump a smaller buyback into its shares compared to a competitor's effort. Microsoft was announcing a $40 billion buyback in the same week. At the time, the two companies were trading at about the same share price. Hewlett-Packard was working through its final season with a 3000 lab, tying a bow on the final PowerPatch of the MPE era. One customer recently called that last 2008 release "MPE/iX 7.5.5."

The company was looking to get into a new operating system business in September of 2008, though. HP would be developing a server of its own built upon a core OS of Linux. HP closed down its Nashua, New Hampshire facility just a few months earlier. The offices where VMS was being revived were going dark. At least HP was still selling hardware and growing. We took note of the contrast between selling goods and shuffling financial paper.

Not all of the US economy is in tatters, despite what trouble is being trumpeted today. HP and Microsoft and Nike still run operations which supply product that the world still demands, product which can't be easily swapped in some shadowy back-door schemes like debt paper or mortgage hedges.

A decade later, much has changed and yet not enough to help HP's enterprise OS customers. VMS development has been sold off to a third party firm, OpenVMS Inc. That move into Linux has created a low-cost business server line for HP which doesn't even mention an OS. Meanwhile, Microsoft's stock is trading above $120 a share and HP's split-up parts sell for between $15 and $27 a share, covering the HP Enterprise and PC siblings.

Last week Microsoft announced an impressive AI acquisition, Lobe. For its part, HP Enterprise announced it was refinancing its debt "to fund the repayment of the $1.05 billion outstanding principal amount of its 2.85% notes due 2018, the repayment of the $250 million outstanding principal amount of its floating rate notes due 2018, and for general corporate purposes." A decade ago financial headwinds were in every corporate face. By this year the markets have sorted out the followers from the leaders. HP stepped away from OS software and has created a firm where sales of its Enterprise unit has gone flat. 

Stock buybacks offer a mixed bag of results. Sometimes the company doing the buyback simply doesn't have the strength and bright enough future to hope to reap some benefit—for the company. Shareholders love them, though. The customers are a secondary concern at times.

The $8 billion probably seemed like a good idea at the time, considering it was in the Leo Apotheker era and its misguided acquistions. (A deal for 3Par comes to mind, where a storage service vendor recently noted that it was Dell that drove up the 3Par acquistion price by pretending to bid for it.) The trouble with stock buybacks is just about nobody can stop them. Shareholders are always happy to have shares rise, either on the news of the buyback or the upswing over the next quarter.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:39 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 12, 2018

Wayback: DX cuts new 3000 price to $7,077

Field-of-dreams
The Series 918DX was going to deliver the 3000's Field of Dreams

If only the HP 3000 were less costly. The price of the system and software was a sticking point for most of its life in the open systems era, that period when Unix and Windows NT battled MPE/iX. HP's own Unix servers were less costly to buy than the 3000s using the same chipset. Twenty-one years ago this season, the cost of a 3000 became a problem HP wanted to solve.

Cheaper 3000s would be a field of dreams. If a developer could build an app, the customers would come.

Now, Hewlett-Packard was not going to cut the cost of buying every HP 3000 in 1997. When developers of applications and utilities made their case about costs, the HP 3000 division at last created a program where creators would get a hardware break. The Series 918DX was going to help sell more 3000s. It would be the only model of 3000 HP ever sold new for under $10,000. A less costly workbench would attract more application vendors.

The list price of the DX was $7,077. Still more than a Unix workstation or a Windows PC of 1997. The thinking of the time came from a new team at the 3000 division, where marketing manager Roy Breslawski worked for new GM Harry Sterling. Removing a cost barrier for small, startup developers was going to open the doors for new applications.

HP simply adjusted its pricing for hardware and software on a current 3000 model to create the DX. The product was a Series 918/LX with 64 MB of memory, a 4GB disk, a DDS tape drive, a UPS, and a system console.

HP included all of its software in the bundle, such as compilers for C, COBOL, FORTRAN, BASIC, Pascal and even RPG. It was all pre-loaded on that 4GB drive: a Posix Developers Kit, ARPA Services, Workload Manager, Glance Plus, TurboStore, Allbase/SQL. No 3000 would be complete without IMAGE/SQL. The harvest was rich for the small development ventures.

The size of the bundled HP software created one of the drags on the DX. HP automatically billed for the support on every program. When developers started to evaluate the offer, the $7,000 hardware came with $14,000 worth of support commitments.

HP leasing wasn't an HP option for such an inexpensive server, however. Rental costs would amount to buying it more than once. The vendors who were sensitive to hardware pricing didn't have strong sales and marketing resources. They could build it, but who would come?

So the DX reduced the cost to purchase a 3000, and buying support was always optional for any acquisition of a 3000. But self-maintainers were not as common 21 years ago. Developers learned the way to get the low-cost development tool was to order it stripped of support and then add HP support only for the software they needed.

The 3000 vendor community of 1997 was excited about the prospects, both for new customers who might buy a 3000 as a result of a new app — as well keen on prospects for their own products. Within a few months, 14 third-party companies offered 30 products either free or at rock-bottom discounts to developers buying the 918DX. The idea was noble and needed because the 3000 had fallen far behind in the contest to offer apps to companies. One developer quipped that HP would need to equip the system with a bigger disk drive to handle all the available software.

The number of available third party programs might well have been greater than the number of DX systems ever sold. All HP required of a company was to sign up for the SPP developer program, a free membership. The roadblock didn't turn out to be a cheaper 3000 for smaller vendors. Although the DX was thin on storage, RAM, and horsepower, the one thing that would've moved the computer to the front of development plans was customers. The 918DX was not going to make orders appear, just the software for them.

In 1997 the ideal of a startup was still new, surrounded by some mystery. The Internet still had a capital letter on the front of the word and keeping costs low was important to savvy developers. Low hardware costs were a benefit. Sterling said the package was designed to draw out development efforts from sources with high interest in the HP 3000 market. "You guys have been telling us this for two years," he said. "I say it's time we try it, and see what happens."

"It was like Christmas in August," said Frank Kelly, co-chair of the COBOL Special Interest Group in the earliest days of the DX offer. Birket Foster, SIGSOFTVEND chairman, said "HP has come forward and done the right thing. We expect this will be a very good developer platform and the right tools will show up for it."

Developers delivered the tools and some showed up to purchase the DX. The dead weight of not being Unix or Windows, with their vast customers pools, is what pulled down 3000 app availability. By today, those 21 years have delivered a market for a 3000 where an N-Class server, 60 times more powerful than the Series 918, sells for about as much as the DX.

The Field of Dreams doesn't get its future told in the classic 1989 film of the same name. The field does exist, however, a stretch of Iowa farmland near Dyersville where the baseball faithful pay $10 to relive that movie magic. It's a beautiful field, and people do come.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:17 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 22, 2018

Wayback: 3000s boot mainframes out of HP

Heart Story 1996
In the summer months of 1996, HP was plugging 3000s in where mainframes were serving. Jim Murphy, program manager for the mainframe replacement project, told the 3000 community that IBM mainframes from 30 years earlier were getting the boot because HP was building servers better than the Big Blue iron.

The company was finally using 3000s to do the work they were built to do. An order fulfillment system called Heart was driving every sales fulfillment. Payroll for HP in North America was also performed using MPE/iX.

1996 was a hard year for the 3000 in some places. The spots where HP's reps felt that only a Unix solution — mistakenly called an open system — would win a sale were no-3000 zones. As a separate division, GSY's 9000 group never wanted to give any ground to HP's commercial computer line. At times, 3000 sites would be encouraged to get a open computer from HP. Plenty of the mainframe replacement in HP involved HP-UX systems.

By the time the August 1996 conference gathered in Anaheim, California, Murphy had a paper in the Interex '96 proceedings. HP IT Program to Eliminate Mainframes explained to a conference full of 3000 owners and managers that it was all HP systems inside the corporate data center by May 17, 1996. The 3000 was a key element in HP's modernization.

The role of the HP 3000 in HP's mainframe elimination process is important from two perspectives. First, as the number of data centers within HP rose, the reliance on IBM-style mainframes did not: the HP 3000s carried a fair amount of the increasing processing loads. Second, as IT began rewriting IBM-based COBOL applications for the 3000 platform, many of the re-writes included moving to client/server architectures. This meant HP IT was becoming familiar with client/server as early as the late 1980s.

The paper is archived at the OpenMPE website.

The Anaheim conference was notable for another big announcement. The World's Largest Poster was unfurled in the winds of a nearby high school's football field. "MPE Kicks Butt" was the slogan on those acres of paper. Inside the HP IT datacenter, the 3000 had kicked sand into the face of some of the company's most critical mainframe systems.

PosterProject

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:18 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 25, 2018

Meet shows veterans never too old to learn

2018 3000 Reunion

The number of people in the pub was not noteworthy. The weekend's HP 3000 Reunion added up to something more than a body count, though, a remarkable and lively turnout for a computer whose vendor declared it dead more than seven years ago.

IMG_3840The veterans of MPE and the 3000 showed a spark of curiosity during the afternoon-to-evening gathering at the Duke of Edinburgh pub and Apple Park in Cupertino. In the late afternoon they held iPads to see a virtual reality view at Apple's Visitor Center, peering at the insides of the Apple HQ building. Earlier, a support talk about the care and feeding of the 3000 sites with aging hardware prompted questions and opinions about homesteading. That strategy was the only one that remained for the men and women crowding a cozy pub room flocked with red and gold paper.

The gold matched the sponsorship banner from CAMUS International. The group sent $200 to cover bar and lunch expenses, showing that manufacturing interest still surrounds companies using a 3000. Terri Lanza, who arranged the banner and the contribution, wished she could attend. Like dozens more, she has to rely on her colleagues who made the trip.

IMG_3841
They came from as far away as England and Toronto, and some from five minutes' drive away. Orly Larson tooled over from his house on a quiet Cupertino street. Dave Wiseman came from England and Gilles Schipper crossed the continent from Toronto.

Tom McNeal, one of the engineers who helped create the memory manager in MPE/XL, attended to represent the Hewlett-Packard 3000 lab. He left HP after Y2K to join a Linux startup. While that was fun, he said, the energy didn't outlast the funding. He came to reconnect and even to see a lineup of hardware for MPE XL that prompted him to observe where multiprocessing came into the product line.

IMG_3832

Vicky Shoemaker, Dave Wiseman, Gilles Schipper, Stan Sieler and Harry Sterling giggle at a video of George Stachnik's 12 Days of Christmas parody. The video from an HP party hailed from the late 1980s, when the struggles of building an MPE for PA-RISC were finally overcome.

People learned at the meeting, more about one another and their 3000 afterlife than something to use in 2018. McNeal was joined by ex-HP stalwarts Harry Sterling, the final GM of the division, and Larson. They made up almost 20 percent of attendees. There was hearty laughter coming from them and the rest of the crowd while everyone watched a video from another 3000 notable. George Stachnik was singing a 12 Days of Christmas parody on a recording from the middle 1980s, when Sterling was running the 3000 labs.

When Stachnik's parody came to the five golden rings line, he'd changed it to Rich Sevcik giving him "every engineer." Sterling chuckled. "It was just about that many," he said.

The room was rich with a sense of that kind of sweet survival across the day. Many of those in the room and later at the tour of the Apple Park headquarters -- the site of the former 3000 division's offices -- counted the server as just a memory. There was some everyday experience still in the room, though, more than 40 years after HP introduced the 3000. Vicky Shoemaker of Taurus Software still counts 3000 customers among her base at the company she founded with Dave Elward. Ralph Bagen still sees 3000s for support, as do Stan Sieler and Steve Cooper. 

The same goes for Gilles Schipper, counting on a California 3000 site to help him leverage the trip from Canada. With the exception of an editor from a blog who was on hand, all others were remembering past efforts and survivals, and celebrating their thriving on the current day. "How many grandkids now?" or "What college did you send them to?" and "How long have you been retired?" were common questions.

The Hewlett-Packard that was represented was the benevolent HP Way company. Sterling has built a thriving real estate practice in Palm Springs. McNeal hailed from the 3000 labs that built MPE to exploit the then-new PA-RISC. Larson taught IMAGE and spread the word at customer events and site visits, sending the message that the 3000's database was better than most. An intimate pre-party at his house in Cupertino included stories traded back in his tiki hut bar.

The dinner table at the pub had two of the three most famous beards from the 3000 community, too. Larson's and Bob Karlin's were wrapped around smiles over the likes of scotch eggs, Cornish pasty and Newcastle Ale. Bruce Hobbs, the other bearded veteran, wanted to come. Dozens more wanted to come, some so urgently their RSVP'ed name tags were already printed up but unclaimed. Deep into the night the talk turned to religion and politics, because everyone knew one another well enough to remain friends through those subjects.

Wiseman counted on that friendship as he brought together people who hadn't seen each other in decades but fell into conversations as if it were only yesterday when they last spoke. It takes a social computer system to open hearts to a reunion after more than 40 years. Nearly everyone at the Duke could count that much experience with the 3000.

"When you're back in town, drop by," Shoemaker and Cooper said to me as they left. They were not counting the numbers in the room. They were counting on our return in the years to come. After the afternoon ended, that hope for a return seemed to add up.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:50 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 13, 2018

New DL325 serves fresh emulation muscle

DL385-Whiteboard
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has reintroduced its ProLiant workhorse, talking up the server in connection with next week's HP Discover conference in Las Vegas. The DL325, when it ships in July, will be a newer and more powerful model of the DL380 server — one suitable for powering a virtualized HP 3000 driven by the Stromasys Charon HPA system. The DL325 is a single socket system, a design that's disrupting the server marketplace.

HP has posted one of its whiteboard walk-throughs on YouTube to cover some of the DL325 advantages. There's also a performance comparison for the system, ranked against a Lenovo alternative as well as an energy efficiency measure against a server from Dell. 3000s never got such industry benchmarks for performance.

But HP 3000s once got this kind of spec treatment from Hewlett-Packard. The 3000 division's product manager Dave Snow gave such product talks, holding a microphone with a long cord that he would coil and uncoil as he spoke. With his pleasant Texas drawl, Snow sounded like he was corralling the future of the hardware. He spoke in that era when "feeds and speeds" sometimes could lure an audience "into the weeds." Breakdowns like the one below once lauded the new PCI-based 3000 hardware.

DL385-Chassis-Overview
The ProLiant line has long had the capability to put Linux into the datacenter. Linux is the cradle that holds the Charon software to put MPE/iX into hardware like the 325. The DL325 (click above for a larger view) is a single-processor model in the company's Gen10 line, adding horsepower for an application that's always hungry for more CPU: virtualization. The DL325 gets its zip from the EPYC chip, AMD's processor built to the x86 standards. EPYC designs mean the chip only needs to run at 2.3 GHz, because the system's got 32 cores per processor.

"This server should deliver great price performance for virtualized infrastructure while driving down costs," wrote analyst Matt Kimball in Forbes.

Even way back in 2014, the DL380 ProLiant server was driving virtualized 3000 systems, fired by a 3.44 GHz chip. That was plenty fast enough to handle the combo of Linux, VMWare and the Stromasys Charon 3000 emulator. The DL385 was 17 inches x 29 by 3.5, just 2U in size. HPE's shrunk the power down to a 1U chassis for the DL325.

During the era when the DL380 was first being matched to virtualization work, Stromasys tech experts said that CPUs of more than 3 GHz were the best fit for VMWare and Charon. Putting MPE/iX onto such a compact AMD EPYC-based machine is a long way from the earliest year of the OS. In 1974, MPE would only fit on a 12,000 BTU server, the HP3000 System CX

The newest Generation 10 box retails for one-tenth of the cost of that CX server. The plodding CX was all that ASK Computer Systems had to work with 44 years ago when it built MANMAN. HP needed to assist ASK just to bring MPE into reliable service on the CX. "It didn’t work worth shit, it’s true," said Marty Browne of ASK at a software symposium in 2008. "But we got free HP computer time."

In the current IT architecture, the feeds and speeds of individual systems are usually in the weeds. A vendor like Stromasys though, working as it does to implement Charon in every customer site, cares about the speeds.

Employing hardware that's newer, like the DL325, brings support to block cutting-edge attacks on the datacenter. HP said this server is not exposed to this year's Masterkey CPU vulnerability, because it uses the HPE Silicon Root of Trust functionality. Root of Trust, HPE says, is "a unique link between the HPE Integrated Light Out (iLO) silicon and the iLO firmware to ensure servers do not execute compromised firmware code. The Root of Trust is connected to the AMD Secure Processor in AMD's EPYC System on a Chip so that the AMD Secure Processor can validate the HPE firmware before the server is allowed to boot."

With exploits like Masterkey on the march this year, HPE has released a patch to update the system ROM with a patch for Linux anyway to mitigate the vulnerability. Current hardware gets that kind of attention from a vendor.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:13 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 06, 2018

Wayback: HP's 3000 Conference Sign-off

HP's June months have been populated by nationwide conferences for more than a decade. Ten years ago in June marked the last known appearance of Hewlett-Packard's 3000 experts at the HP Technology Forum show in Las Vegas. It was an era marked by the soaring expectations from CEO Mark Hurd and the soon-to-plummet economy crashing around the American lending and banking markets. HP was emptying its tech wallet at a show that would soon be called HP Discover instead of a Technology Forum.

HP had a meeting for 3000 customers at that 2008 show, the final expression of support for the owners who launched HP's enterprise business computing prowess. Jennie Hou was in the final year of managing the 3000 group at HP. The vendor had a history of awarding one community member — people like Alfredo Rego, or Stan Sieler — with a Contributor of the Year Award. The 2008 award was renamed a Certificate of Appreciation and given to the full 3000 community. Being thanked, as HP retired the customers, was a sign of HP's final sign-off.

Appreciation certificate
The 2008 edition was the last public event where HP presented news about the platform. It was the last year when the server owners could employ the services of HP's labs. HP's Alvina Nishimoto, who'd been leading the information parade for third party tools and migration success stories, gave an outstanding contributor award of sorts at an e3000 roadmap meeting. The award shown in the slide above had a commemorative tone about it, like a fond farewell to the days when something new was part of the HP message to 3000 attendees.

In that June, the new Right to Use licenses were proving more popular than HP first imagined. The licensing product placed on the price list for 2007 let customers upgrade their license level on used systems. Of course, it only applied to the 3000s designed before 2001. It says something when servers almost a decade old could be a popular upgrade item in datacenter.

Just two HP speakers addressed the 3000 at the conference — Nishimoto and Jim Hawkins, the latter of whom spoke for five minutes at the end of the OpenMPE update. The Tech Forum had become a great place to learn about technology that HP would never put into a 3000.

I asked Hou about HP's participation in the conference and what I should expect in the years to come. The vendor would only discuss migration by 2008, after completing the final PowerPatch and delivering some whitepapers to the community.

HP was saying so long, and thanks for the fish.

The e3000 community has always been and will continue to be an interesting place.  It truly is one of a kind. This year, at Alvina's talk, HP will thank every e3000 partner and customer. HP recognizes that the e3000 community wouldn't be what it is without so many people's ongoing involvement and contributions. This also includes all your dedication in bringing the e3000 news to the user community over the past decades.

Hou was gracious in acknowledging the role we'd played up to that point a decade ago. Neither one of us knew the Newswire would still be tracking the fate and future of MPE/iX, ten years later.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:49 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 30, 2018

HP is doing better without some customers

HP Q2 Revenues 2018
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise released an earnings report last week. The release covered the first full quarter since Antonio Neri took over as CEO, assuming command from retiring Meg Whitman. The numbers looked good to investors. The customers HPE's achieved are helping to lift the ship, even while some of you left the HP fold long ago.

It's easy to ignore HP now, if you're homesteading on 3000 iron either virtual or physical. The vendor wasn't able to deliver patches to support companies like Allegro at the start of this year, so the last remaining deliverable for MPE/iX has dropped off the product offerings. The patches were free, unlike enterprise patches for HP's Unix, NonStop, and VMS systems. Failing to deliver HP 3000 products long ago ceased to impact HP's quarterly revenues and earnings.

We care, however, about how Hewlett-Packard Enterprise fares — for the sake of the readers who still use HP's other enterprise gear. The IT managers who run multi-platform shops care about things like HP Next, or at least HPE hopes so. HP Next is "our company-wide initiative to re-architect HPE to deliver on our strategy and drive a new wave of shareholder value," Neri said when the numbers appeared in the evening of May 22. "It is all about simplification, execution and innovation."

Many things have changed about enterprise computing since HP last sold a 3000 in 2003. One big change is the dissapearance of hardware and operating system bedrock. In the 3000's heyday, things were defined by OS and iron. It's all too virtual to see those markers now. HP seems to be doing better without some of you because you didn't want to buy what's sold as enterprise computing. 

Better? Revenue of $7.5 billion in Q2, up 10 percent from the same quarter of 2017. Earnings were better, 34 cents a share in a market "beat," above the outlook range of 29-33 cents a share. The company calls its computing business Hybrid IT now, and the business was up 6 percent over the same quarter of 2017.

Not so many years ago, when HP wasn't doing this well, you could drill into its presentations for the quarters and find server sales. Not anymore. Now the news is about Cape Networks and buying Cape "to expand AI-powered networking capabilities with a sensor-based network assurance solution that improves network performance, reduces disruptions and significantly simplifies IT management for our customers." That out of a CEO's statement about new business, so it's supposed to be opaque.

Hearing things like "composable infrastructure offerings" might make a 300 homesteader roll their eyes, not to mention the experts who still support a 3000. My spell checker thinks composable isn't even a word, let alone a product attribute.

But like we said earlier, there's a reason to care about HPE's fate. The company's success props up the idea that a vendor that builds physical products and software continues to matter in 2018. Years ago, the concept of a datacenter that was fully virtual was like the paperless office. It seemed like science fiction, but companies still hungered for it.

HP's still in the futures business, trying to catch up with cloud offerings from Cloud Technology Partners. Neri said that HP did well with an acquisition of RedPixie. "RedPixie is a UK-based cloud consulting company, with deep Microsoft Azure expertise, which perfectly complements CTP’s strong AWS relationship." That's a relationship designed to move applications off classic servers like HP-UX or VMS and into Amazon Web Services cloud computing. Those particular moves are a lot like the effect a 3000 company gets from placing an MPE/iX virtual machine into a cloud provider.

Amazon's potential to host HP-UX apps provides some future for that platform that never did receive a port to Intel architectures. There are levels of abstraction there to probe for a homesteader who's still got an MPE/iX application to carry away from HP's machines. That might be far away from your position today. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is counting on your interest in the years to come, though. You might be able to help them do better once you leave the OS bedrock behind. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:13 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | 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)

February 21, 2018

HP's Enterprise reports a rising Q1 tide

HPE Hybrid IT Q1 2017
Source: HPE reports. Click for details.

As her parting gift to incoming CEO Antonio Neri, HP Enterprise leader Meg Whitman left him with one of the best quarters HPE has posted in years. While the company that makes systems to replace the HP 3000 posted 34 cents a share in profits, its revenue from server sales rose by 11 percent, along with gains in storage revenues (up 24 percent) and datacenter networking gear (up 27 percent).

The increase in server sales has been a difficult number to deliver ever since HP stopped supporting the HP 3000. The gains came in the computer lines driven by Intel's chips, not HP's Itanium processors.

An analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy was quoted in the Bay Area's Mercury News as saying "If this is what HPE will look like under new CEO Antonio Neri, investors, customers, partners and employees will be pleased.”

The results came from the final quarter of Whitman's leadership, though. The company is raising its quarterly dividends to almost 12 cents a share, a 50 percent increase, to return money to shareholders. HPE will be buying back its stock throughout 2018 as well. The stock price rose to $18.35 on the report, which beat analysts' estimates of 22 cents a share in profits and $7.1 billion in revenue. HPE's Q1 2018 revenues were $7.7 billion.

Industry Standard Servers—the type of computer system that can drive the Stromasys Charon virtualized MPE/iX environment—came in for specific mention in HP's conference call with analysts. ISS contributed to the overall growth in servers, according to Neri. 

He also commented on the change in US tax laws benefiting HPE ("we have more flexibility in using our overseas cash") and then explained how his HPE Next is going to shift the culture of the corporation that was once ruled by the HP Way.

Neri, the first career-long HP employee to become CEO since Lew Platt in 1993, architected and initiated HPE Next. "It's all about simplification, innovation and execution," he said in a Q&A session with analysts. "I'm pleased with the first quarter performance where we executed well with no disruption. This is an opportunity for me as the new CEO to establish a new culture as we transform the company, and to really architect the company from the grounds up with a clean sheet approach. And this is going to change the culture of the company."

What I learned is the fact that you can push more, you can do more. And the organization is actually very excited about what we’re doing, because this is an opportunity to improve the way serve our customers. So it is very critical initiative for us and we are confident we’re going to deliver not only the improvements in our cost savings but also the way we work and employee productivity. And most importantly that should reflect in our business performance and our customer satisfaction.

Neri said HPE will also be re-investing at a higher level in employee 401k accounts, and assisting in more degreed education "so employees can fulfill their visions in our company as they progress in their careers."

Neri started at HP working in a call center for customer support during the 1990s. Whitman remains on HPE's board of directors after retiring from the corporation's CEO job.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:46 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 29, 2018

Locating patches is now a personal search

PatchworkTen years ago the threads between MPE/iX patches and Hewlett-Packard were intact. The vendor stopped developing the fixes and additions to a 3000's abilities. But owners were assured that the software would be ready for download. A call to HP's Response Center would continue to connect customers and patches.

None of those facts are true by now. Some support providers say there's not enough HP left in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise support to even know what a 3000 does. The 3000 experts who still track such things concur. Donna Hofmeister, former OpenMPE director, said "No one can get MPE patches from HPE now. There's simply no organization left to handle such a request."

In 2008 one significant patch issue involved beta release software. HP was clinging to its established testing practice, one that limited beta tests to current HP support customers. OpenMPE wanted to close that gap and become a force for good to get 3000s patched.

CEO Rene Woc of Adager proposed that OpenMPE administer the beta testing of patches caught in HP's logjam. The HP support customers were not taking a bite of the new bytes. Meanwhile, OpenMPE had pan-community service in its essential charter. Hofmeister said OpenMPE could speak for the thousands of sites which couldn't access beta patches for tests.

If it weren’t for OpenMPE, all the companies coming individually to HP for support beyond end-of-life wouldn’t have a collective voice. It’s OpenMPE that’s uniting these voices.

Spin the world forward 10 years and HP has indeed stopped issuing all patches. The software is available from other sources, however. Devoted owners and consultants are breaking the rules by sharing their patches—but only because HP broke a promise. HP tried for awhile to clear out beta patches. This week we heard some went into general release "because they had at least one customer who installed them without ill effect."

Even after more than a decade, there's still a forum where a customer can ask about patches: the 3000 mailing list. The transactions happen in private. Responsible support companies cannot say they'll distribute HP software.

Ask around, Hofmeister said, to find out who has HP's patches. There's a more reliable way to get repairs, though.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:31 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 24, 2018

HPE's latest-to-exit CEO leaves for phone TV

Whitman-smartphoneMeg Whitman, who led HP from an acquisition-hungry behemoth to a company split in two, is heading to work making short television. Good Morning Silicon Valley reports that she's going to lead NewTV — a name is considered to be tentative— with Jeffrey Katzenberg of the movie and TV production world. Both served on the board of Disney. The story sounds like Whitman wants a job changing the cultural landscape, or at least screens on smartphones.

NewTV has some pretty ambitious thoughts on the video industry, the kinds of which you would expect to hear from a startup backed by some industry bigwigs who are used to getting things done their way.

According to a report from Variety, Whitman will lead a company that “aims to revolutionize entertainment with short-form premium content customized for mobile consumption.” The basic idea of NewTV is create video programming like 10-minute-long shows that are produced with techniques, and money, that usually go into traditional broadcast programs.

How NewTV will do this, and with what kinds of partners will it work, remain to be seen. Whitman is said to be planning on getting into more fundraising efforts for the company. According to Variety, Whitman said, "We’re going to be recruiting the very best talent, and in a few more months we’ll have to more to say on this.”

Whitman leaves her HPE job, and chairmanship of the board, at the end of next week. It's not her fault the company went from being able to send an MPE patch in 2011 to being an enterprise without contact to 3000s in any material way—is it?

In 2012 she said that HP would be locked out of a huge segment of the population in many countries if it didn't have a smartphone by 2017. She was correct about that. Investments in mobile entertainment are so much more fun than operating enterprise IT. Whitman says the new job is a return to her startup roots, referring to eBay. She was different than the three CEOs who came before her, according to CBS News. "It hired director Meg Whitman as a CEO replacement for fired Leo Apotheker, a main scapegoat originally hired to replace fired Mark Hurd, who was hired to replace fired Carly Fiorina."

And so Whitman is the first HP CEO to resign peacefully in this century. Lew Platt left the company on his own terms in 1999 after almost doubling the company's revenues during his seven-year tenure.

Apotheker left after just 10 months in the HP job with more than $13 million in compensation after the company lost more than $30 billion in market cap during his tenure. Mark Hurd continues to sell against HP from his job as co-CEO of Oracle. (HP had a pair of CEOs for a year in the 1990s, when Dean Morton and John Young shared the office.) Fiorina, the first HP CEO with no HP experience before getting the job, has since run the gamut in politics. She has losing an election in common with Whitman, who failed to win the California governor's race in 2010.

The incoming HPE CEO Antonio Neri, like Platt before him, is an executive whose career has been exclusively at HP. He's been in computers all his life.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:01 PM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 15, 2018

Emulation or iron meets Classic 3000 needs

A few weeks ago the 3000 community was polled for a legendary box. One of the most senior editions of Classic 3000s, a Series 42, came up on the Cypress Technology Wanted to Buy list. The 42 was the first 3000 to be adopted in widespread swaths of the business world. It's not easy to imagine what a serious computing manager would need from a Series 42, considering the server was introduced 35 years ago.

Series 42 setupThese Classic 3000s, the pre-RISC generation, sparked enough business to lead HP to create the Precision RISC architecture that was first realized with its Unix server. The HP 9000 hit the Hewlett-Packard customer base and 3000 owners more than a year before the 3000's RISC servers shipped. Without the success of the Classic 3000s, though, nobody could have bought such a replacement Unix server for MPE V. Applications drive platform decisions, and creating RISC had a sting embedded for the less-popular MPE. Unix apps and databases had more vendors.

That need for a Series 42 seems specific, as if there's a component inside that can fulfill a requirement. But if it's a need for an MPE V system, an emulator for the Classic 3000s continues to rise. Last week the volunteers who've created an MPE V simulator announced a new version. The seventh release of the HP 3000 Series III simulator is now available from the Computer History Simulation Project (SIMH) site.

The SIMH software will not replace a production HP 3000 that's still serving in the field, or even be able to step in for an archival 3000. That's a job for the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualized server. But the SIMH software includes a preconfigured MPE-V/R disc image. MPE V isn't a license-protected product like MPE/iX.

Some CIOs might wonder what any MPE system, running MPE V or MPE/iX, might provide to a datacenter in 2018. The answers are continuity and economy, elements that are especially evident in any emulated version of a 3000. Old iron is on the market at affordable prices. If a PA-RISC system can be sold for $1,200, though, it's interesting to consider what a 35-year-old server might fetch. Or who would even have one in working order to sell.

Software like Charon, and to a lesser extent SIMH, earns its consideration more easily than old iron. Virtualization is so embedded in IT plans that it's a bit of a ding to admit you don't virtualize somewhere.

The deep-in the-mists tech of the ATC terminals is a big part of the new SIMH. The new capability shows off the limitations that make it obvious why PA-RISC 3000s are still genuine data processing solutions. The SIMH terminal IO uploads via Telnet using a Reflection terminal emulator are now over 100 times faster than earlier releases of the MPE V software. As a reminder of the IT world's pace during the 1980s when MPE V was king, the new, faster upload time for a one-megabyte file has decreased from 69 minutes to 30 seconds.

That's still a 2-MB a minute pace. A Simulator's User Guide shows the way for ATC setup required for successful Reflection Transfers. That's from the era when locating a Reflection client program on a 3000 was essential for moving data in many applications. That was also the era when HP was manufacturing its own disc drives in Boise, Idaho. The burn-in testing for those drives up in that factory was powered by a massive row of Series 42s. My 1988 tour at Boise was the last time I saw a Series 42 in use.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:16 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | 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)

November 29, 2017

Wayback Wed: MPE gets its last millicode fix

Drywall-patchTen years ago this month HP's labs delivered its final fix for MPE/iX millicode. The patch demonstrated the last critical repair of the OS by the HP development labs. It had been 16 years since HP had to do a fix for the 3000's millicode. The 2007 millicode patch was crucial whenever a customer's applications accessed mapped files and utilized Large Files, those which are 4GB or greater in size

HP introduced the Large Files feature in 2000, just after the community had cleared Y2K challenges. The corruption could occur if any one of five out of the last six bytes of a Large File failed to transfer correctly. Corruption introduced by MPE/iX is so uncommon that the patch became essential—and a way to gauge how much the community might lose when HP's labs would close up.

The labs were ready in a way the customers rarely saw. HP announced the bug with repairs and white papers already available.

OpenMPE sought an opportunity to take a role in the repairs. OpenMPE advocates showed concern that binary repairs like this one would present a challenge to application developers who need to integrate them into MPE/iX in the future. OpenMPE wanted to do this work. The advocacy group never got its opportunity to participate in the development work for 3000 sites.

HP's repair rolled out four years to the day after the company ended sales of the 3000. The development of this type of patch, a binary-level repair, remained available throughout 2009 and 2010. At the time of the repair, HP had not yet licensed its source code for MPE/iX. Delivery of that source code wouldn't take place until 2011. HP's binary patches for the corruption were not done in source code.

Large Files was a feature gone sour, by HP's own reckoning. The vendor was trying to remove the code from customers' 3000s. A 2006 patch was designed to turn off Large Files and get those files on the system converted to Jumbo files, which are much better engineered.

One aspect of the repair that stood out was the readiness of its release. At the time of the announcement HP labeled the repair General Release, moving at a rapid clip beyond beta test status. Dozens of other fixes and enhancements for the OS remained in beta status when MPE got its farewell at HP. Those patches would've been cut off from the customers under the standard release policy. HP made the beta patches available at the end of its MPE operations.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:18 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 27, 2017

How dead is tape in 2017? HP thinks it's not

RIP tape backupHP 3000s have been held together with tape. Mylar tape, the sort in 8-inch reels and modern cartridges, has been the last resort for recovery. The world of MPE/iX computing survived on its backups whenever things went awry. It's easy to assume tape's dead these days. People think the same thing about the HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise agrees with the latter death notice, not the former. Tape thrives today because of Big Data.

Why would an MPE/iX customer care about newer tape? Resources like on-premise backup are shared today, here in the era where HP is read to sell a seventh-generation of Linear Tape Open. LTO isn't costly, which makes it a good fit for the always-economical 3000 world. In fact, the media is cheaper than the more common DLT tapes.

"I would still recommend LTO," says Craig Lalley of EchoTech. "I know a couple of my customers are using it. The performance will not be as high as other computers', but that's more or a CPU/backplane issue."

The MAXTAPBUF parameter is essential in using LTO, he adds. As to speed,

The N-Class 750—with a couple CPUs and a high speed fibre disc sub system that definitely helps—but it will never peak the LTO-1 throughput. It's still the fastest tape storage for the HP 3000. So the real advantage is amount of storage. And remember, it is always possible to store in parallel: two, three and four tape drives at once, in parallel as opposed to serial.

It seems that the new job for tape in 2017 is not everyday backups. These ought to be done to disk, a function supported by MPE/iX since 1998. Today's tape is there to backup the disk backups. Backups of backups are very much a part of the MPE Way.

The forthcoming HPE StoreEver MSL3040 Tape Library is designed for small to mid-sized organizations. It offers flexibility and storage capacity of up to 4.08PB with LTO-7. Hewlett-Packard is just one of many companies to keep pushing LTO forward. The standard isn't moving all that fast, though. Five years ago LTO-5 was the cutting edge for complete data protection and secure, long-term retention of business assets.

Using LTO devices for backups of backups on-premise is straightforward for anyone who's created a virtual HP 3000 using Stromasys Charon. So long as the host Linux server can communicate with the LTO device, it can backup a 3000 that's been virtualized. An emulator removes the risk of staying on the MPE/iX environment. A virtualized server won't be tied to interfaces from 15-year-old 3000 iron, or IO designs first crafted in the 1990s.

Five years ago some experts said that cloud storage was the final nail in backup tape's coffin. Our intrepid author Brian Edminster took a closer look at what a service like Amazon Glacier could do for the HP 3000 user. But it's almost as important to listen to what he's got to say about support of the latest LTO tape devices.

One of the primary advantages of creating the 3000's PA-RISC architecture was supposed to be peripheral support. HP would write and maintaining fewer device drivers once its enterprise servers shared an architecture. PA-RISC led HP away from the HP-IB interface, something Hewlett-Packard created for instruments, not computers. But in practice, the operating systems still needed specialized engineering to pass data quickly between server and peripheral.

These LTO tape drives are the kind of peripherals which HP supported more slowly, if at all, during the final decade of MPE lab work. The first LTO with an HP badge, Ultrium, ran half as fast (160 mb/sec) as the same unit hooked to HP-UX -- because its mandatory MPE interface was engineered for half the bandwidth of the more updated Unix-based servers. HP never made up the difference in speed, and that shortfall arrived right out of the gate with LTO-1. LTO-5 was the state of the art in 2010, two years after HP closed the MPE labs.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:40 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | 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 13, 2017

HP's shrinkage includes iconic HQ address

  800px-HP_HQ_campus_4
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)

November 06, 2017

Flood drives off HP, even as 3000s churn on

Server_rack_under_FloodLate last week Hewlett Packard Enterprise—the arm that builds HP's replacements for 3000s—announced it will be moving manufacturing out of Texas. According to a story from WQOW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the facilities from HP's Houston area are pulling out and headed to higher ground in the Midwest. HP said its operations were flooded out beyond repair by Hurricane Harvey. A report from the Houston Business Journal says HPE is sending more than 200 manufacturing jobs north due to the Texas rains. “Because of the destructive effects of flooding two years in a row, the company has decided to move more than 3,000 employees to a new site in the greater Houston area,” HPE said in a press release.

HP 3000s have fared better in high waters. A couple of the servers up in the Midwest keep swimming in front of a wave of migration.

Back in 2013 we reported a story about a once-flooded HP 3000 site at MacLean Power, a manufacturer of mechanical and insulation products. The 3000's history there started with Reliance Electric at that enterprise, becoming Reliant Power and then MacLean-Fogg. Mark Mojonnier told his story, four autumns ago, about the operations at Mundelein, Illinois.

The new company, Reliable Power Products, bought its first HP 3000 Series 48 in 1987. We had a flood in the building later that year and had to buy another one. The disk drives were high enough out of the water to survive, so when the new one arrived, we warm-booted it (with the old disk packs) and it picked up right where it left off.

The 3000s continue to out-swim the waters of change there for awhile longer. Monjonnier updated us on how the servers will work swimmingly until 2021, and why that's so.

More than 200 users are working with the company's N-Class server every day. There's another N-Class running as a disaster recovery system at MacLean. Changes in management, which produced changes in migration strategies, put the 3000s at MacLean above the waterline for an extra four years, by Monjonnier's estimates.

"The long term estimate for the HP 3000 unplug date is now 2021 if all goes according to schedule," Monjonnier said. "In the meantime, the HP 3000s are still chugging along."

About the same time that our half of the company (Power) selected the EPICOR [application] for the future, the other side of the company (Vehicle) decided on JDEdwards. A few years into the implementation, there was a change in management. The new management determined that the entire company would go with JDEdwards. So, after about three years down the EPICOR road, we started all over, going down the JDEdwards road instead. Personally, I think this was a good decision.

So we are still running our pair of HP 3000s. We have implemented JDE at one of the seven "Power" locations. This has reduced the HP 3000 user load down about 15 users, but company growth has increased that load to about 250 users most of the time. We are getting ready for our second (and largest) factory to switch to JDE in June, 2018. There are a lot of people working on this one.

As for HP Enterprise, it's going to move manufacturing out of its current Houston campus because of devastating flooding from the hurricane, and another flood the year before, HPE said in a release. More than 3,000 HPE non-manufacturing employees will move to a new campus the company will build in the Houston area.

The manufacturing facilities on its current Houston campus were “irreparably damaged by Hurricane Harvey,” so it will permanently move manufacturing operations to Chippewa Falls and its supply chain partner Flex in Austin, officials said in a release.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:19 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 30, 2017

HP's Way Files Go Up in Flames

Hewlett-packard-original-officesThe Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported yesterday that the vast collection of Bill Hewlett's and David Packard's collected archives, correspondence, writings and speeches — materials that surely included HP's 3000 history at the CEO level — were destroyed in a fire this month. An HP executive who was responsible for the papers during the era the 3000 ruled HP's business computing said "A huge piece of American business history is gone."

The fire broke out in the week of October 9 at the headquarters of Keysight Technologies in Santa Rosa. Keysight got the papers when it spun off from Agilent, the instrumentation business HP spun off in 1999. HP's CEO Lew Platt, the last CEO of the company who worked from the ground up, retired that year.

The blaze was among those that raged over Northern California for much of this month. What's being called the Tubbs Fire destroyed hundreds of homes in the city's Fountaingrove neighborhood. The Hewlett-Packard papers chronicled what the newspaper called "Silicon Valley's first technology company."

More than 100 boxes of the two men’s writings, correspondence, speeches and other items were contained in one of two modular buildings that burned to the ground at the Fountaingrove headquarters of Keysight Technologies.

The Hewlett and Packard collections had been appraised in 2005 at nearly $2 million and were part of a wider company archive valued at $3.3 million. However, those acquainted with the archives and the pioneering company’s impact on the technology world said the losses can’t be represented by a dollar figure.

Brad Whitworth, who had been an HP international affairs manager with oversight of the archives three decades ago, said Hewlett-Packard had been at the forefront of an industry “that has radically changed our world.”

HP's archivist who assembled the historic collection said it was stored irresponsibly at Keysight. While inside HP, the papers were in a vault with full fire retardant protections, according to Karen Lewis. The fires, which Keysight's CEO said were the "most destructive firestorm in state history," left most of the Keysight campus untouched. HP 3000s themselves have survived fires to operate again, often relying on backups to return to service.

Dave Packard coinsNo such backup would have been possible for the lost archives. The company was so devoted to its legacy that it preserved Dave and Bill's offices just as they used them while co-leaders of the company. The offices in the HP building in Palo Alto — unthreatened by California files — include overseas coins and currency left by HP executives traveling for Hewlett-Packard. The money sits on the desks.

Offsite backup was not a part of the Keysight disaster plan for the archives. Our contributor Brian Edminster wrote that such offsite backups are crucial.

Once store-to-disk backups are regularly being processed, it’s highly desirable to move them offsite — for the same reasons that it’s desirable to rotate tape media to offsite storage. You want to protect against site-wide catastrophic failures. It could be something as simple as fire, flood, or a disgruntled employee, or as unusual as earthquake or act of war.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:38 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 13, 2017

Lexicon migrates jargon, work remains same

Composable infrastructureChurn was always a regular catalyst for commerce in enterprise vendor plans. Making changes a regular event in IT planning seems to be requiring new language. Sometimes it's not easy to translate what the latest, shiniest requirements are, in order to move them back into familiar lexicon. HP Enterprise has added jargon new to the senior tactical pros in the 3000 datacenter.

For example, take HPE Synergy. Offered as an alternative to legacy systems like the 3000, HP Enterprise (HGPE) calls it "a composable infrastructure system." 3000 pros would know this as a roll-your-own enterprise system. Like Unix was in the days HP pitted it against the 3000, with all of its software and components and networking left to the customer's choice.

Composable, okay. It's not a word in the dictionary, but it's made its way into HPE planning jargon. "Provides components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements." Like every Windows or Linux system you ever built and configured.

Here's another. HCI: hyperconverged infrastructure. A package of pre-compiled servers, network and storage components in a single engineered offering. This is opposed to buying those components separately, and end-users configuring them.

Hyperconverged. Again, not in the English lexicon. Pre-compiled server, network, storage components offered together. "Turnkey," from 1988. The bedrock of every HP 3000 ever sold.

"We don't hear these terms in the datacenters where we consult," said Sue Kiezel at The Support Group. A big project to move a 3000 MANMAN installation to Kenandy—built upon Salesforce—is wrapping up. The Support Group did the work alongside the IT staff. The shop is forward-looking, seeing as nobody has ever moved MANMAN to Kenandy before now. The new HPE lexicon might be understood and used by analysts or consultants.

TSG's David Floyd says that whatever they need to know at Disston Tools, they learn from experts. Resources like the Support Group bring in new ideas, new architecture. Sometimes there's new jargon to add to the lexicon. Don't feel too bad about hyperconverged or composable being outside your grasp.

Virtual computing will be a part of the MPE/iX backbone the rest of the way, right out to the 2028 deadline for CALENDAR formats. Stromasys has seen to that with Charon. HPE says that HCI is used for virtual desktop infrastructure, or as a type of VM vending machine to offer users virtual or even bare-metal infrastructure.

HPE’s HCI product is the Hyper Converged 380. Analysts see it as trailing offerings from market leaders Nutanix, Simplivity and Dell EMC (VxRail). HPE upgraded its position in the market when it acquired Simplivity,  making the company one of the premier HCI vendors.

Given that the new language, it's not always clear what HPE wants to do for the customers who migrate. One analyst summed it up this way this year. There are three things.

HPE wants to help customers build private clouds on next-generation infrastructure that integrates with public cloud resources.

A second broad focus area is what HP calls the “Intelligent Edge,” which encompass technologies related to the Internet of Things.

Finally, a third pillar revolves around services and helping customers successfully execute projects in the first two areas.

A recent Worldwide Infrastructure Forecast by IDC estimates that through 2020, public cloud infrastructure is set to grow at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate; private cloud is forecast to grow at 11 percent. This compares to traditional IT growing at only 2 percent. If companies like HPE and others can offer compelling options, there is a market for enterprises to upgrade their on-premises infrastructure.

Cloud computing, private or public, is part of most 3000 sites' lexicon by now. HPE will help a customer build their own cloud, using composable infrastructure, or hyperconverged infrastructure. Roll your own, or turnkey. As the traditional means of computing is growing by about 2 percent a year, expect HPE to be big on offering everything to make a great cloud.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 06, 2017

HPE server sales and its CEO stay on course

HPQ3-ProfitsFive years ago this fall, Meg Whitman became CEO of HP. In 2011 Hewlett-Packard was a single monolithic company which just swallowed a $11 billion taste of Autonomy Software. One day after the company cut Autonomy loose, Whitman's HP Enterprise announced it beat analyst estimates on sales and profits.

It's not a bad trick for a corporation that's been shedding products and sectors ever since Whitman took over. The fortunes of HP might be of no more than casual interest for homesteading 3000 customers, including those who use the Stromasys Charon virtualizer for their MPE/iX platform. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise continues to sell servers that can host alternatives to the PA-RISC iron. Yesterday's results showed the vendor's server sales dipped only slightly in the period ending July 31.

Sales for the full company were $8.2 billion, ahead of the $7.5 billion predicted by analysts. Earnings were also out in front of estimates, 31 cents per share versus a prediction of 26 cents. The markets moved HP's stock upward on the news. One analyst said he's still concerned for HPE's future.

In a report from the San Jose Mercury News, Rob Enderle said "regardless of the firm’s structural changes, this is a firm that still appears to be in trouble and there is, as yet, no bright light at the end of the tunnel." Sales rose in the latest quarter on the strength of a strong period for storage and networking equipment. Moving Autonomy to Micro Focus earned HP $8.8 billion, according to Whitman, who had to address rumors she is in the running for the new CEO job at Uber.

Taking over a company with a top management strategy in tatters seems to be a one-time thing for Whitman. On the analyst conference call that delivers the business results, she said Uber's search spotlight fell upon her late.

“I was called in late in the Uber search,” she said. Uber reminded her of her former company, eBay, in that both companies made their name by upending traditional industries.

“I’ve dedicated the last six years of my life to this company,” Whitman said. “I actually am not going anywhere.” She spent a year on the HP board of directors before taking over for CEO Leo Apotheker, who was the third straight HP CEO to leave office in a cloud of disappointment. Whitman's six years for HP matches Carly Fiorina's tenure and is one year longer than Mark Hurd served.

Divesting HP Enterprise of most businesses except for infrastructure might be moving away from some profits. Upon cutting Autonomy and business software loose, HPE cut its earnings estimate for FY 2017 10 to 16 cents per share. HP wants to build private clouds on next-generation infrastructure that integrates with public cloud resources.

Intelligent Edge, which encompass technologies related to the Internet of Things, is also on the list of HP missions. Services and helping customers successfully execute projects in those areas, using hardware and integration support, is the third pillar of the slimmed-down HPE.

The company made profits reappear in the latest quarter after a Q2 of red ink, using Generally Accepted Accounting Practice numbers. Traditional IT, where HP's made its largest footprint, is growing at a 2 percent rate across the industry. The newer cloud infrastructure business, is forecast to grow at 15 percent a year through 2020.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 04, 2017

HPE takes a breath after its software flip

HP-UXAs the company which was once the vendor of HP 3000s and MPE, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has now merged its software operations with British software company Micro Focus International. Not included in the transaction that closed this week: enterprise operating systems. The question to be answered over the next few quarters is whether the enterprise customer cares about infrastructure beyond their choices for cloud computing. Those who've adopted HP-UX should watch the HPE naming-space closely.

HP recently floated a survey by way of the Connect user group, quizzing customers about a name for a new version of an enterprise OS. HP 3000 managers know the OS by its previous monicker, HP-UX. This OS has a growing problem—a lack of compatibility with Intel x86-based computers. HP means to sell enterprise strategists on the merits of what it calls HPE Portable HP-UX.

The new name represents an old idea. HP's been engineering the second coming of HP-UX for a long time. Our first reporting on the new generation of HP's Unix started late in 2011. HPE Portable HP-UX is supposed to "suggest a technology that completely emulates a hardware system in software," or perhaps, "Conveys the idea that HP-UX is now available anywhere." These were the multiple choices on the HP naming survey.

HP says the latest iteration of this concept will "enable re-hosting of existing Itanium HP-UX workloads onto containers running on industry standard x86 Linux servers." A container, in this idea, is a portion of Linux devoted to the carriage of an older operating system. Network World surmised in May that the containers "will likely pull HP-UX workload instances and put them in Linux as micro-services. Containers are different from virtualization, which require hypervisors, software tools, and system resources. Containers allow customers to maintain mixed HP-UX and Linux environments and make the transition smoother."

Network World said the technology offers an escape from an aging OS. All software ages, but it ages more quickly when the vendor adds layers to run it. An emulation or virtualization strategy is expected from third parties. When a vendor creates these layers for its own OS, it's a sign of the end-times for the hardware. HP's Unix customers have to take their applications elsewhere.

Virtualization has been a benefit for customers who continue to rely on MPE/iX applications. Stromasys Charon HPA has preserved the most essential element of the platform, the OS. The point was not to move away from an HP-designed chip. PA-RISC is preserved. In contrast, HPE Portable HP-UX is moving to x86 because the future of Itanium now has a final generation. Kittson is the last iteration of Itanium. It puts HP-UX in a worse spot than MPE/iX. HP-UX has become an OS that Hewlett-Packard has disconnected from the HP chip it built to run it.

While the company that was once called HP has added one letter to its name, it continues to pare away its non-essential lines. Enterprise software is the latest to go. Excising the software from HPE isn't news, so it won't relate to the market's reaction Wednesday to HPE's third-quarter report. That doesn't mean HPE Q3 results won't make waves, though.

None of this software business is in the same league as the products now sent to live in the Micro Focus product lineup. The software that's just been split off from HP first arrived at Hewlett-Packard when, in 2011, HP acquired the British firm Autonomy for $11 billion. Investors were not thrilled at the time, but the biggest loser was probably CEO Leo Apotheker. CEO Leo lost his job even before the Autonomy deal could close. HP ended up taking an $8.8 billion write-down on it. HP's deal of this week at least restored that loss to the bottom line.

“With the completion of this transaction," said CEO Meg Whitman, "HPE has achieved a major milestone in becoming a stronger, more focused company, purpose-built to compete and win in today’s market. This transaction will deliver approximately $8.8 billion to HPE and its stockholders.”

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:45 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2017

Wayback Wed: Lights Out for 3000 Classics

Series 70 with Disk FarmDuring this month 20 years ago, HP sent its death notice out about the original systems it built to run MPE. All computers running CISC technology, systems the community learned to call Classic 3000s, got their end of support notice in August of 1997. Hewlett-Packard officially labeled them and the software built for MPE V as "vintage software and systems."

As continues to be the case for HP's end of life plans, the finale for the 3000's original chip design arrived more than a few years beyond the EOL of September 1998. Series 70s were still in use when the original notice went out, at least a decade beyond their final shipping date. HP created the Series 70 when the RISC Spectrum project looked certain not to rescue the highest-end HP 3000 users in time. Series 68 users were running out of horsepower, and HP's final CISC server filled the gap for awhile.

HP was consolidating its support resources with the announcement. Even though 20,000 HP 3000s shipped between system introduction and the arrival of the RISC-based systems, the newer, lower-priced MPE/iX servers became popular replacements for Classic 3000s. By 1997 the software vendors had made a complete embrace of the new OS. But 3000 customers, ever a thrifty bunch, retained what continued to serve them well enough. Customers noted that the approaching Y2K deadline was not going to hamper the vintage software or its hardware.

Although the announcement sparked a 3000 hardware sales bump and hastened the journey of the two-digit systems like the Series 42 to the scrap heap, the old compilers remained under support. A community advocate then asked HP to free up Basic/V to the community, along with the original Systems Programming Language (SPL). The request pre-dated the idea of open source by more than a few years. HP's response was no different than the one it held to when it stopped supporting MPE/iX. Once an HP product, always an HP product.

Wirt Atmar of AICS noted that "If HP has abandoned Basic, it would be an extraordinary gift to the MPE user community to make it and SPL legal freeware. Basic still remains the easiest language to build complex, easy string-manipulating software that must interact with IMAGE databases."

Another community leader, Chris Bartram, made direct reference to freeware in seconding the move to give Basic/V to the customers. Bartram's 3k Associates already hosted a website of shareware for the HP 3000. He said donating the MPE V versions of Basic and SPL fit with HP's new policy of relying on shareware for its HP 3000 customers.

"It certainly doesn't hurt anything at this point to make it freeware," he said, "and fits in well with the wealth of other freeware programs that are becoming available on the platform -- almost all without "official" support or significant investments from HP." Old hardware, on the other hand, suffered from the same issues as HP's aging iron of our current day. Parts became a showstopper at some sites.

Ken Kirby of Vanderbilt University said, "A good reason not to stay with the Series 70 is the difficulty of getting parts. The last time our 70 was down, it lay lifeless for three days waiting for HP to locate a part and have it sent here. Fortunately, there are no critical applications on our 70, as we have migrated most to a 987. The Series 70 was a fine piece of equipment in its day. So was the Titanic. For those of us still aboard, it looks like the iceberg is just around the bend."

Kirby added that the maintenance aspects—parts and HP support fees—were much cheaper for the newer systems. Cutting the costs for power, cooling, and service from generation to generation was in step with other enterprise vendors' strategies. Ten years after the Classic death notice, the head of HP's 3000 division operations was calling the 3000 a two-generation system: pre-2001 and its shutdown news, then post-2001. The genealogy of HP's hardware actually has three generations: Classic, PA-RISC, then the PCI-based A and N. The final generation was sold for less than a year before HP lost its desire for the 3000.

The Classic 3000's MPE/V, sent toward the sidelines with the 1997 announcement, was the last of HP 3000 operating systems whose source code was for sale. Tymlabs, a software vendor in Austin with products for backup and terminal emulation, said it bought a copy for $500 with full use. By the end of 2010, HP was selling a limited use, read-only license of MPE/iX code for $10,000—to a set of companies who had to apply to purchase it.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:32 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2017

Parts become hair triggers for some sites

Ordering parts for HP 3000s used to be painless. HP's Partsurfer website showed the way, letting a manager search by serial number, and even showing pictures in a full listing of components. Click to Buy was a column in the webpage.

PartsurferThat's a 3000 option that's gone from the HP Enterprise Partsurfer website, but there are options still available outside of HP. Resellers and support vendors stock parts — the good vendors guarantee them once they assume responsibility for a server or a 3000-specific device. Consider how many parts go into a 3000. These guarantees are being serviced by spare systems.

Parts have become the hair trigger that eliminates 3000s still serving in 2017. "Availability of parts is triggering migrations by now," said Eric Mintz, head of the 3000 operations at Fresche Solutions.

Homesteading to preserve MPE/iX is different and simpler matter. Virtualized systems to run 3000 apps have been serving for close to five years in the marketplace. That's Charon, which will never have a faded Partserver website problem. No hardware lasts forever, but finding a Proliant or Dell replacement part is a trivial matter by comparison. A full spare replacement is one way to backstop a Charon-hosted MPE/iX system, because they run on Intel servers.

"Some customers do want to stay on as long as possible," Mintz said. Application support helps them do this. So do depot-based support services: the ones where needed parts are on a shelf in a warehouse space, waiting.

The longest-lived example of depot part service I've seen came for a Series 70 HP 3000. This server was first sold in 1985. About 22 years later, one of the last was being shut down in 2007.

Ideal has just retired its last 70 about a month ago," Ryan Melander said. "The machine was just de-installed into three pieces and shipped back East, where it will sit for two years—and if needed, be fired back up for archive data. We have only had two power supply incidents in the last year. However, the old HP-IB DDS tape units became very hard to support.  We do have a fully functional system in our depot."

One working theory about hardware in the industry is that older generations of computers were built to last longer. Given the capital cost of the units, customers (especially the 3000 owners) expected them to run forever.

A-Class servers were last built in 2003. A 22-year run of service would get the last one retired in 2025. Ah, but you have to factor in the quality of the build. Getting to 2020 might be interesting. A depot support solution would be essential to avoid squeezing that hardware trigger.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:52 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2017

Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice

French-CuratorsJust a few weeks ago, we reported on the presumed disappearance of the HP 3000 Jazz lore and software. The resource of papers and programs written for the MPE/iX manager turned up at a new address at Fresche Solutions' website. Fresche was once Speedware, a company that licensed use of all the Jazz contents—help first compiled by HP in the 1990s.

Now it looks like HP's ready to flip off the switch for its Community Forum. These have been less-trafficked webpages where advice lived for 3000s and MPE. Donna Hofmeister, a former director of the OpenMPE advocacy group, noted that an HP Enterprise moderator said those forums would be shut down with immediate effect.

I discovered this little bit of unhappiness:
7/31 - Forum: Operating Systems - MPE/iX

Information to all members, that we will retire the Operating Systems - MPE/iX forum and all boards end of business today.

As far as I can tell, all MPE information is no longer accessible! :-( I'm not happy that no public announcement was made <sigh> If you can demonstrate differently, that would be great!

But a brief bout of searching this morning revealed at least some archived questions and answers at the HPE website about the 3000. For example, there's a Community post about advice for using the DAT 24x6e Autoloader with MPE/iX. It's useful to have an HP Passport account login (still free) to be able to read such things. The amount of information has been aging, and nothing seems to be new since 2011. It wasn't always this way; HP used to post articles on MPE/iX administration with procedural examples.

Not to worry. The established 3000 support providers have been curating HP's 3000 information like this for many years. No matter what HP takes down, it lives on elsewhere. "We gathered a lot of the Jazz and other HP 3000 related content years ago to cover our needs," said Steve Suraci of Pivital. "While I don’t think we got everything, I do think we have most of what we might need these days." Up to date web locations for such information should be at your support partner. Best of all, they'll have curated those answers.

Knowing what's useful, correct, and up to date: that's what a guide does. Indie support companies like Pivital do this (Pivital happens to be an all-3000 company). Only a DIY shop -- with no support budget for the 3000 -- has any business skipping support. Production 3000s deserve the backstop of a support guide.

For example: That HP Community forum has lots of user-supplied answers to questions about MPE/iX. Without any direct access to the forum, though, the traffic died four years ago. That means there's nobody left reading the forum to check the accuracy of the free advice.

The 3000-L still has 470 subscribers, and a 3000-L archive that can be searched. That's a fair number of readers to keep solutions on target. However, if your production 3000's support resource is limited to 3000-L, that's probably not enough to keep a mission-critical application online. Taking a journey with a system whose OS has been static since 2009 requires a guide -- or at least an expert curator to filter what advice is working and what is not sound anymore.

John Clogg, still maintaining a 3000 in production use, offered a link for HP's latest location of 3000 manuals.

As of this moment, MPE manuals are still available at:
https://h20565.www2.hpe.com/portal/site/hpsc/template.PAGE
/public/psi/manualsResults/
?javax.portlet.begCacheTok=com.vignette.cachetoken&
javax.portlet.endCacheTok=com.vignette.cachetoken&
javax.portlet.prp_e97ce00a6f76436cc859bfdeb053ce01=
wsrp-navigationalState%3DmanLang%253Den
&javax.portlet.tpst=e97ce00a6f76436cc859bfdeb053ce01
&sp4ts.oid=416035&ac.admitted=1501870675581.125225703.1851288163

Here's a Tinyurl link: https://tinyurl.com/yaw5o2wm

Judging from that HP URL, probably even HP can't find it to turn it off. I hope this post doesn't help them in that endeavor!

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:58 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 05, 2017

Heritage HP Jazz notes, preserved for all

Jazz-software-saxIt was a wistful July 4 here at the Newswire. For about a day it seemed that a piece of the 3000's legacy disappeared, knowledge hard-earned and sometimes proven useful. The address for HP's Jazz webserver archived content wasn't delivering. It seemed like a new 3000 icon had gone missing when a manager on the 3000-L newsgroup went looking for Jazz notes and programs.

HP called the web server Jazz when it began to stock the HP 3000 with utilities, whitepapers, tech reports, and useful scripts. It was named Jazz after Jeri Ann Smith, the lab expert from the 3000 division who was instrumental at getting a website rolling for 3000 managers. JAS became Jazz, and the server sounded off flashy opening notes.

This is the sort of resource the community has been gathering in multiple places. One example is 3k Ranger, where Keven Miller is "attempting to gather HP 3000 web content, much of it from the Wayback Machine. From the "links" page, under the Archive sites, there are lots of things that have been< disappearing." Miller's now got an HP manual set in HTML

What might have been lost, if Speedware (now Fresche Legacy) had not preserved the software and wisdom of Jazz during its website renovation early last month? Too much. HP licensed the Jazz papers and programs to Client Systems, its North American distributor at the time, as well as Speedware. Much has changed since 2009, though.

Client Systems is no longer on the web at all. The Jazz content is safe in the hands of Fresche, which licensed the material from HP. It was only the URL that changed, evolving at the same time Fresche shifted its domain address to freschesolutions.com. The Jazz material was once at hpmigrations.com. Now you must add an explicit page address, hpmigrations.com/HPe3000_resources, where you'll find white papers include these Jazz gems, like the following papers.

Securing FTP/iX explores methods to increase FTP/iX security based on FTP/iX enhancements. Options for Managing a DTC Remotely covers issues and potential solutions for managing DTCs in networks. There's manual for HP's UPS Monitor Utility and configuring a CI script executed after a power failure; A report on using disk space beyond the first 4GB on LDEV 1; A feasibility paper about making TurboIMAGE thread-aware, as well as supporting the fork() call when a database is open.

But HP also wrote about using Java Servlets on the 3000, as well as showing how to employ CGI examples in C, Pascal and Perl to access data via a 3000 web server. There's Web Enabling Your HP 3000, a paper "describing various ways to webify your 3000 applications and includes descriptions of many third party tools."

Agreed, the white papers might've been lost without as much dismay. The programs from Jazz would've been more of a loss. All that follow include the working links available as of this week. Every access requires an "agree" to the user license for the freeware.

  • ABORTJ script - powerful and flexible script to abort multiple jobs and session. Can select by user account, job state, IP address, job queue, etc.

  • CATCHLOG - IMAGE log file formatter (store-to-disk format), tar version, and Readme file.

  • CDCOPY - CDROM copy utility (tar archive) and Readme file. Provided by Holger Wiemann, updated by Lars Appel.

  • CHRTRAN - file contents translation utility (tar format) and Readme file.

  • CIVARS - A zipped tarball containing two COBOL programs. One sets the variable MYSECOND to the number of seconds in the current time. The other sets a variable named YYYYMMDDHHMMSS. Thanks to Glenn Koster and Lars Appel. Note: in 6.0 it is easy to get current date and time using the HPDATETIME and the HPHHMMSSMMM predefined variables.

  • Command Files - and UDCs.

  • CRYPT - tarball containing the POSIX crypt utility. Usage: $crypt KEY <file1 >file2.

  • DBUTIL.PUB.SYS store-to-disk archive or tar archive - New version of DBUTIL to fix security related defect. Please read this security notice for more information.

  • dnscheck - a shell script to check your e3000's DNS configuration. Run this script, correct any problems that it detects, and then re-run until no more problems are found.

  • FWSCSI - NM program displays the revisons of the firmware for all NIO Fast/Wide SCSI interfaces in the system and avoids the need to use the xt diagnostic tool for each card on the system. Note that these interfaces may only be present in 900 series e3000 systems, not A/N-class systems. Recommended firmware 3728 or 3944.

  • HP-IB device checker - script that runs on early 5.0 and later, and reports all HP-IB and FL devices on your system.

  • NETTIME - time synchronization utility (compressed tar) and Readme file.

  • NEWACCT and NEWGROUP UDCs - UDCs and scripts make it easier to keep groups and files on user volumes. Readme file for Volume Management UDCs.
  • Porting Scanner - toolkit to analyze application before porting.

  • Porting Wrappers - additional functions and commands, both POSIX and UNIX, useful in porting applications.

  • PURGEACCT and PURGEGROUP UDCs - UDCs and scripts make it easier to keep groups and files on user volumes. Readme file for Volume Management UDCs.

  • Random name generator - script that produces a pseudo random name from "minlen" up to "maxlen" characters long.

  • Scripts - Command Files and UDCs.

  • SETDATE - A program to alter the date in the current session. Readme file.

  • Showconn & Abortcon Utilities - Utilities to show network sockets/connections on a system and abort TCP connections.

  • SHOWJOB script - powerful matching capabilities to select just the jobs/session you are interested in.

  • SIU migration/system mgmt tool - Utility to analyze various files on your system.

  • Socksified FTP - for MPE/iX 6.0 and 5.5

  • STREAM UDC - 6.0 version of STREAM UDC for User Defined job queues. A simple config file maps user.accounts to specific job queues. No need to add the ";JOBQ=" parameter to existing jobs or STREAM commands. Readme file describes features of the STREAM UDC.

  • TCPY - media copy utility (tar format) and Readme file.

  • UNPACKP - the latest UNPACKP script.

  • Toolset/iX migration program - utility that converts TSAM source to flat files. The tar file contains the NMPRG program file and the COBOL source code. Thanks to Sally Blackwell.

  • VERSION - tar archive of the VERSION.pub.sys program which supports up to 500 SOMs.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:15 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 28, 2017

Wayback Wed: HP makes 3000 fiber-fast

Server-rack-fibre-channelTwenty years ago this month Hewlett-Packard began to make its 3000s fast enough to use fiber connections. HP Fibre Channel was an implementation of the T11 standard, a serial interface to overcome limitations of SCSI and HIPPI interfaces. Although the 3000 wouldn't gain a full Fibre Channel capability until the following year, HP laid the essential groundwork with the first High Speed Connect (HSC) cards for HP 3000s.

It was peripheral technology nearly in parallel with Unix, a strategy the 3000 community was clamoring for during the system's late 1990s renaissance.

New IO cards rolled into the 3000 market in 1997, giving the server a road to bandwidth equality with its cousin the HP 9000. HP told customers Fiber Channel was the future of 3000 peripheral connectivity. HP's first family of Fiber Channel devices were first deployed in a Model 30/FC High Availability Disk Array for 9000s.

SpeedChart-Series-997-IntroThe advance for the server gave the 3000 an open door to a technology that's still in heavy use. By some estimates more than 18 million Fibre Channel ports are working across the world. The technology has rocketed from the initial 1Gbit speed to 128Gbit bandwidth. The highest-speed HP 3000s until the ultimate server generation were Series 997s, designed to replace the Emerald-class systems. HP charged more than $400,000 for 997s at the top of the range. It was the only 12-way HP 3000 the vendor ever introduced.

Today the Fibre Channel advantage is available in Linux server settings. One example is the Dell EMC storage solution. Linux is the host environment for the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator.

The technology was also noted for its power to eliminate bent pins. HP said in a Journal article that "serial connectors used for Fibre Channel are a fraction of the size of SCSI parallel connectors and have fewer pins, thereby reducing the likelihood of physical damage. Also, depending on the topology, many more devices can be interconnected on Fibre Channel than on existing channels."

Today, Fibre Channel is a choice for high-performance arrays to expand and hit full performance at both the storage and compute layers. Fibre Channel innovations enhance this connection by adding quality of service (QoS) for flash optimization. Both flash cache and logical-unit-number (LUN) prioritization allows administrators to tailor the data enter environment to fully optimize investment in flash technology.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:39 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017

Wayback Wed: Blog takes aim at 3000 news

SearchlightTwelve years ago this week we opened the 3000 NewsWire's blog, starting with coverage of a departed 3000 icon, a migration tool built by a 3000 vendor to assist database developers, as well as a split up of HP's two largest operations. The pages of this blog were devoted to these major areas: updates from the 3000 homesteading community, insights on how to move off the 3000, and the latest News Outta HP, as we continue to call it today. After 2,978 articles, we move into the 13th year of online 3000 news.

Bruce Toback died in the week we launched. He was a lively and witty developer who'd created the Formation utility software for managing 3000 forms printing. A heart attack felled him before age 50, one of those jolts that reminded me that we can't be certain how much time we're given to create. Bruce expanded the knowledge of the community with wit and flair.

Quest Software rolled out its first version of Toad, software that migrating 3000 sites could employ to simplify SQL queries. The initial version was all about accessing Oracle database, but the current release is aimed at open source SQL databases. Open source SQL was in its earliest days in 2005, part of what the world was calling LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python-PHP-Perl. Quest was also selling Bridgeware in a partnership with Taurus Software in 2005. That product continues to bridge data between 3000s and migration targets like Oracle.

HP was dividing its non-enterprise business to conquer the PC world in our first blog week. The company separated its Printer and PC-Imaging units, a return to the product-focused organization of HP's roots. Infamous CEO Carly Fiorina was gone and replacement Mark Hurd was still in his honeymoon days. Todd Bradley, who HP had hired away from mobile system maker Palm, got the PC unit reins and ran wild. Before he was cut loose in 2013, the PC business swelled to $13 billion a year and HP was Number 1. HP missed the mobile computing wave, a surprise considering Bradley came from Palm. You can't win them all.

That HP success in PCs, all driven by Windows, reflected the OS platform leader and wire-to-wire winner of migration choices for 3000 owners.

During that June we polled 3000 managers about their migration destinations for 2005. Windows had an early lead that it exploded in the years to come, but in the third year of what we called the Transition Era, HP-UX still accounted for almost one-third of migration targets. The raw totals were

Windows: 31 customers
HP-UX: 23 customers
Other Unixes, including Linux, Sun Solaris and IBM AIX: 15 customers

The IBM iSeries got mentioned twice, and one HP 3000 company has moved to Apple's Unix, which most of us know as OS X.

With 71 companies reporting their migration plans or accomplishments, HP-UX managed to poke above the 30 percent mark. Unix overall accounts for more than half of the targets.

The main information source at the time we launched the blog was the NewsWire's printed edition. During the summer of 2005 that would shift, so by the end of 2005 the print appeared quarterly and the blog articles flowed on workdays. In the print issue of that first blog month, the migration news read like this.

Larger 3000 sites make up the majority of early migration adopters, many of whom choose HP-UX to replace MPE/iX. Now the smaller sites are turning to a migration challenge they hope to meet on a familiar platform: Microsoft’s Windows.

While HP-UX has notched its victories among MPE/iX sites, the typical small-to-midsize 3000 customer is choosing a more popular platform.

“We have never learned Unix or Linux, only MPE and Windows, and it is a lot easier to hire and train Windows people,” said Dennis Boruck of CMC Software, makers of the Blackstone judicial application. Blackstone’s success in the Clark County, Nevada courts led HP to highlight the Blackstone MPE/iX application in a success story.

Some customers express a reluctance to put mission-critical computing onto Windows platforms. But Windows’ familiarity has won it many converts. “We are moving to a Windows 2003 Server environment because it is the easiest to manage compared to Unix or Linux,” said programmer supervisor E. Martin Gilliam of the Wise County, Va. data processing department.

Carter-Pertaine, makers of K-12 software, said Speedware’s migration path to HP-UX is guiding the first phase of its customer migration strategy. But Quintessential School Systems, which is the C-P parent, is working on a Linux option.

By now Linux is an establishment choice for on-premise datacenters and the bedrock of Amazon Web Services where most computing clouds gather. The platforms of 2017 have evolved to consider databases and infrastructures as their keystones, rather than operating systems. Bridgeware, jointly developed by Quest and Taurus Software, still moves data between 3000s and the rest of the database world. Today's Bridgeware datasheet language acknowledges there's still 3000 IMAGE data at work in the world.

BridgeWare Change Detection permits delta change captures in IMAGE, KSAM and other MPE data structures.

For years, IT managers have been faced with the difficult task of making data from IMAGE and other MPE-based files available. With the retirement of the HP 3000, this has become an even greater need. Taurus’ BridgeWare ETL software solution greatly simplifies the task of moving data between databases and files on MPE, Windows, UNIX and Linux systems, allowing you to easily migrate, or replicate your data to extend the life or phase out your HP 3000.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:47 AM in History, Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 31, 2017

Laser ruling a draft for 3000 owners' rights

LaserJet 33440ALaserJets are wired into the history of the HP 3000. Hewlett-Packard never would have developed the printer that changed HP without a 3000 line in place. The business printer was designed to give minicomputer users a way to print without tractor-feed paper, fan-fold greenbar or dot-matrix daisywheels. That was more than 30 years ago. A Supreme Court decision on laser printing this week has a chance at affecting the future of HP's 3000 iron.

The ruling handed down this week was focused on a lawsuit between an HP rival, Lexmark, and a company that builds and sells Lexmark replacement toner cartridges. Lexmark tried to assert that its patent protection for laser toner cartridges extends to the buyers of the cartridges. Nobody could refill that Lexmark-built cartridge but Lexmark, the print giant said.

The upstart Impression Products has been buying used cartridges from the customers and refilling them. If this sounds like healthy commerce to you, then you agree with the decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts this week. Even though a company can protect a patent as it sells the product, the patent doesn't hold if the product is resold, or modified and resold. An article at WashingtonPost.com — where 3000 legend Eugene Volokh leads a popular law blog — has all the details.

HP is not in the story except for a line at the bottom, which notes how seminal the LaserJet remains in the story of printing. An earlier edition, the correction notes, used the word laserjet instead of laser printer. The 3000's future ownership might ride on how courts determine the Supreme's decision. You can resell a car that you've modified and break no law. HP has long maintained the HP iron called a 3000 is no vehicle, though, even while it carries the magic rider called MPE.

FBI BadgeIn 1999 the 3000 market saw a swarm of resellers who hawked MPE iron at below-average prices. These computers were HP 3000s when they booted up, but their pedigree was often stolen with a support software product. People went to jail, HP created a sorta-enforcement team that operated alongside real officers. At the worst of it, Client Systems' Phoenix 3000 official resellers claimed the FBI might come and take away a 3000 with sketchy papers.

As a result of the disputes over ownership, HP said that its 3000 iron doesn't exist, and cannot be owned, without a license for MPE/iX. The ownership chain flowed from the license, the vendor said. It was like a car in the sense that you didn't have a vehicle fit for the road if you didn't have plates. HP owned the plates (the software) and only licensed those bits. MPE/iX has never been sold, they said. Only licensed.

The new court ruling states that a manufacturer's rights to a product that's been sold stop once the maker (or a reseller for the vendor) sell the product. That old Volkswagen Beetle you bought and tricked out for dune buggy status? VW has no hold on how you attach mufflers, or even if the teenagers down the block pay you for the modified Bug.

Tying a physical product to a digital controlling component (HP's 3000 hardware to MPE/iX) was a strategy the community wanted to battle. Wirt Atmar, founder of AICS Research and indefatigable MPE advocate, looked into untying HP's MPE-3000 bundle. His pursuit got as far as a Chicago legal office, where well-paid lawyers said that winning such a suit would involve battling more well-paid lawyers. Atmar had to park the community's pursuit vehicle.

The Post article said the next step in the evolution of US law will be to determine if digital products can be sold with an ownership that protects the maker's rights forever. Since the matter in the Supreme Court covered digital parts for a computer peripheral, the writer must mean digital products which don't have a physical form. Software comes to mind.

Every vendor except one in the 3000 ecosystem shouldn't worry. No one but the system maker who builds an OS has ever tied software to physical hardware to make the former the guardian of the latter. Software companies which offer virtualizations of systems utilitize the best available licenses to make emulators legal. Now the rules about ownership status and rights are changing, thanks to a Court that's not always been on the side of the little guy.

The little guys who own HP's 3000 iron have been told they need an HP license of MPE/iX to boot their systems. It's also true for virtualized systems. If those products sold to customers — HP's iron, the virtualization software — are untied from HP Enterprise concerns, pricing might change. Even more importantly for the future, modifications might flow into the key components of a 3000's software, if a court rules that modding up your software doesn't break patent protections.

Source code is inside the community that would make that modding possible, but it's been tied to a license that prohibits using the source for anything but support of customers. That's why any changes to CALENDAR needed at the end of 2027 must be applied customer-by-customer. Releasing an MPE/iX 8.0 isn't permitted under today's law. If those HP licenses were ruled illegal, it could change the future of owning a 3000—perhaps because for the first time, a customer could truly own the box, instead of paying a fee to license the software essential to making a 3000 compute.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:11 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 27, 2017

HP quarter invites a peek at a smaller profile

Dorian GreyQuarterly results from the latest report on Hewlett-Packard Enterprise didn't impress investors. On the news of its revenues falling short of estimates—what's called a "miss" in today's markets—the stock got sold down 7 percent a share. Stock prices come and go, and HPE has made a better restart than the HPQ end of the split-up HP. The future, though, is certain to be getting slimmer for HPE. The question is whether something smaller can ever grow like the monolithic HP which carried 3000 customers across more than three decades.

It's easy to dismiss the fortunes of a split-off part of a vendor which doesn't make 3000s anymore. When the plans wrap up on a pair of  "spin-mergers" of two of the company's bigger business units, what's left over might have lost any further ability to change the enterprise computing game. Migrating 3000 customers will still have to take their computing someplace. Looking at the HPE prospects for 2017 is a part of that decision.

Analyst Bert Hochfeld has just written a 4,000-word report on the company on the Seeking Alpha website. That's a huge piece of business reporting that deserves a close read if you're buying stock or working for HPE. IT managers can find some insights as well. Cherry-picking some sections, to look at HPE's business futures, is useful for planning. HP's selling off its Enterprise Services and Software businesses to CSC and Micro Focus, respectively. The deals will wrap up by September. Hochfeld says what remains at HPE is unlikely to grow. A lack of growth is what drove down HP's stock last week.

"I do not think anyone imagines that what will remain of HPE in the wake of its divestitures is a growth business," Hochfeld said. "There are some growth components in otherwise stagnant spaces. The company has yet to demonstrate that it can execute at the speed necessary to exploit the opportunities it has—and to make the right choices in terms of allocating its resources in what are difficult markets."

In a report titled Has the company done a u-turn on a trip to nowhere? Hochfeld notes that what's left over at HPE this year might be viewed like the picture of Dorian Grey. But that would only be true, he adds, in a world where datacenters will only be run by cloud providers. Companies will run their own datacenters, a fact HP will need to stress to stay relevant when it displays a smaller profile.

It's a debate that can't be solved easily, but it's worth considering when making changes to move a 3000 environment. That Dorian Grey picture, a portrait growing more haggard by the day while its subject appears hearty and hale, "seems to me to be a gross over-simplification."

It suggests there will soon be a world without datacenters other than those owned by the cloud vendors. There will be readers and other observers who will cite specific examples of large companies who have chosen to abandon the management of any of their data and who will move all workloads to the cloud.

A systems provider that focuses on datacenter provisioning and business needs a stout sales culture, Hochfeld adds. "What's far more important are questions about the long-term viability of a strategy related to selling a hybrid-cloud infrastructure to enterprise IT customers."

HPE, which through divestiture will be shrinking itself to less than $30 billion a year in annual sales, is going to need to replace the sales strategies that were appropriate when it was a behemoth, and it could use its consulting practice as a lever to promote sales of enterprise servers and storage.

"Core servers and storage is a tough market," he says, "and it is not easy to forecast that the market  will ever return to significant growth numbers. The only way to deal with a market that seems, at best, to be stagnant or at worst to be in long-term secular decline, is to innovate boldly and perhaps ruthlessly. That again is a discipline that is still a work in progress at HPE."

Hochfeld is taking a long-term position in HPE stock, thinking it will maintain its value. The company is retaining business that earns about $900 million a quarter in profits. The HP that offered ProLiant and Integrity alternatives to the 3000 is just as much gone as the 3000 itself is from HP price lists. One observer at the Seeking Alpha site wondered if HPE might take itself private, or become an target of acquisition.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:17 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 09, 2017

3000 experience floats up to the Fed

FedRichmondReid Baxter started his work in the HP 3000 world in 1981. This year he's helping to support the IT at the US Federal Reserve in Richmond, VA. There is no direct line between these two postings. Baxter has made the most of his career that started with MPE and terminals to lead to his current post where he helps maintain computers that serve the US banking bedrock, The Fed.

Baxter, one of the earliest 3000 Newswire subscribers, checked in this week to congratulate us on another anniversary as we crossed into the 22d calendar year of publishing. It's been quite a while, as Baxter says, since an HP 3000 was in his life: seven years ago he transitioned off everyday 3000 duty when his employer JP Morgan-Chase closed down its MPE/iX servers.

Baxter went into support of the 3000's successor at Chase, HP-UX, and then onward into Linux. When your skillset goes as far back as HP's Data Terminal Division, a new environment presents more opportunity than challenge. The 3000 once had a place in banking IT, which is why Chase once deployed the ABLE software suite from CASE for asset management.

After Chase did a downsize in 2015, Baxter went on a lengthy quest to land a new spot in finance computing. He's working today for HP Enterprise Services, by way of the Insight Global staffing enterprise. His mission is support of that Fed IT center, work that he can do remotely. One reason for that telecommute is that banking has often needed remote computing. Banking software on the 3000 once drove the adoption of Internet services on the business server, after all.

When the 3000 division at HP had to pick up the pieces of a failed Internet partner Open Market, Inc. 20 years ago, Chase and CASE were reasons to keep the MPE/iX Internet project on target. 3000 sites needed a commercially-supported Web server during that era when open source freeware powered many Web servers.

Customers using HP 3000s in commerce need a secure Web server, according to senior software specialist Rick Gilligan of Computer and Software Enterprises (CASE). The California firm is installing new HP 3000s as part of its business, which includes banks that are among the five biggest in the US. CASE's reference customers include companies like NationsBank and Chase Manhattan.

CASE will soon be offering its HP 3000 clients Internet access within CASE applications, so bank customers will be able to see loan data. Gilligan, who chaired its most recent meeting of the SIGWEB Special Interest group and  said a secure Web server native to the HP 3000 makes a lot more sense than using another Web host.

"My clients don't want another box that they have to maintain and get approval for in their company," Gilligan said. "Banks aren't looking for any more boxes or any more bodies when all they want is a Web server. A Web server is a very small part of all the things the 3000 is doing for them, and a Web server on that 3000 certainly makes more sense than putting it on another box."

That server software in 1997 was going to be the Open Market product chosen by HP, but the Web company closed down web server business once Apache and Microsoft's servers rose up. HP bundled the OMI product into the fundamental operating system, only to give it a sudden end of life date months later. Vendors like CASE, and their clients like Chase, looked at a period when Apache running on the 3000 had no support from HP. Some used it anyway and waited for HP to catch up and offer Apache/iX.

Now Baxter is making the best use of his career that started at DTD in 1981, onward to the DeskManager group at the UK's Personal Office Computer Division — another place where connectivity drove the advance of the 3000 using HP's business email suite.  

By the time HP was announcing the end of its 3000 business, Baxter moved on "to Bloomington Illinois, contracting through Radiant Systems working for 13 months for HP's Business Continuity Support Hardware 'Hands On' team at State Farm corporate—incidentally, the largest HP 3000 shop in the world."

Changes in the fortunes of the HP 3000 have been easy to spot. It's always a pleasure to discover the continued careers of people like Baxter who help mold your server into a linked business tool. Such experience in IT continues to be a trading option for supporting the newest enterprise solutions. You can think of those many years of working savvy as the common coin in a career, whether in finance or elsewhere.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:59 AM in History, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 28, 2016

HPE losing weight for 2017: in servers, too?

SlimdownHewlett-Packard Enterprise made itself smaller during 2016, the natural progression of a slim-down that started in the fiscal 2016 period for the company. Annual results for the first full year of the dual-HP venture—one devoted to business computing, the other to all else—showed a continued decline in sales. HP cut its software group loose this quarter, selling off assets like Autonomy to Micro Focus. Becoming smaller has not helped HPE's overall numbers quite yet.

Sales at the Enterprise group, home to 3000 replacements like ProLiant servers, fell by 9 percent from 2015's Q4. The full HPE sales tally for the quarter dropped by $900 million in year-over-year measures. Were it not for favorable currency shifts, the company would have had to bear the full range of these losses. Until HP could offset its results with divestitures and currency benefits, the Enterprise Group ran $403 million in the red. A total of $50.1 billion in HPE sales was booked in 2016. More than $3 billion in profits were left after expenses were met and taxes were paid.

A report from Patrick Moorhead at Forbes noted that the sell-off of HPE software to Micro Focus was a marriage to a company with a solid history of preserving acquired products. Whitman "bragged on Micro Focus a bit," Moorhead wrote, "saying that the company has never shut down a product that they acquired and merged with, and that their growing assets will be important moving forward." He added that the statement looked like it was crafted to keep the former HPE software customers satisfied with becoming Micro Focus clients.

HPE keeps slimming itself down to ensure its expenses will drop. Since revenues are on a decline year over year, the ploy to sell off businesses with dim short-term prospects seems destined to continue. On the website The Street a story has reported that according to Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha, Hewlett Packard Enterprise could part with its servers, storage, IT support and consulting. One potential buyer might be the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's server business, which Garcha values at $8.9 billion, could interest Huawei. The unit has $15.4 billion in projected fiscal year 2017 sales and $1 billion in Ebitda, Credit Suisse estimates.

Bedrock platform software is moving outside HP, too. There's already a timetable for turning over the OpenVMS software operations. HP 3000 owners remember the days when HP sold application software that could compete because its installed base propped up mainframe server support contracts. Things have peeled apart by today. Support contracts are the shadow profitability tied to OS operations.

Even after paying MicroFocus and losing billions in software support dollars, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise believe it will still save money. Company strategists have looked at this gambit and concluded the savings are genuine. The software business at HPE doesn't include operating systems like OpenVMS; those are groomed and improved in the Enterprise group.  sorry for the loss of jobs at HP, and more sorry that customer service levels might decline. Or not; we don't know yet.

HP wanted to be ranked No. 1 in selling everything. It turns out being ranked No. 1 in profits matters most. If that wasn't true, there wouldn't be an HPE today -- just an HP. CEO Meg Whitman said the company's on target for what it wants to become. Divesting software and services in 2016 led Whitman to sum up the year. "The HPE that emerges after the two spin mergers will have a clear vision, the right assets, and direct line of sight to significant market opportunities," she said.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:01 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 14, 2016

HP: Still a font of talent after all these years

It's Wayback Wednesday, but the 3000's history recall has fresh entries from the current day. A lot of HP 3000 sites turned away from Hewlett-Packard's offerings over the last 15 years. But more than a few have not, even after three CEO ousters and a split up of the company into consumer and enterprise parts. There's still something in the split-off parts to admire. A new book chronicles lasting HP lessons to the industry players who are lapping HP today.

HewlettandPackardAmong the former: thousands of HP employees who've spent decades serving the HP customer. From engineering desk to conference presentation room, too many people to count or name have lifted the level of service. We heard from one today, Guy Paul, who once managed HP 3000s for the vendor and now is working on network storage for HP Enterprise. When asked what's remained stellar about the company where he's worked for 32 years, Paul pointed at people.

"The only thing that has remained that is good is the dedicated hard-working people I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from all these years," he said. He was compelled to add that many are leaving after the HP split up "and a merger all happening within one year." It's always been true that HP's loss of superior people is the industry's gain. So much of the 3000 independent enterprise earned its stripes by way of direct work with HP, too.

Some of that bounty has been released this week. A new management book might be cause for little celebration, but take a closer look at the new Becoming Hewlett-Packard. It was co-authored by a former top HP executive, Webb McKinney. He was interviewed eight years ago at the Minicomputer Software Symposium at the Computer History Museum. More than 20 of us were contributing 3000 stories at the Symposium, but the oral history McKinney gave at the Museum was even better. Best practices for the industry haven't changed that much since then. The HP book even makes a case for why the practices that have changed ought to change back. We're talking the HP Way here—although the book makes it clear that donuts are not a pillar of the Way.

In a great book review and summary at the MIT Technology Review, the HP Way is among four lessons Hewlett-Packard's departed leaders still offer for top movers of our current day.

Make sure “culture” is about values, not practices. HP’s founders created what became known as the HP Way in several ways. Examples include insisting that the company enter markets only where it could make a meaningful contribution of valuable technology; asking employees to take pay cuts in tough times to avoid layoffs; and fostering understanding and collaboration between all corners of the company. “Management by walking around,” they called it.

But as the years passed, many employees came to equate the HP Way with particular traditions, such as the daily doughnut breaks meant to encourage conversation, or the right of top performers to earn full product-and-loss authority over their own product groups. That last one became a huge problem for [former CEO] John Young, because building computer platforms requires development of hardware, software, and other technologies that are all interdependent.

The future leaders of today’s tech giants should be prepared for similar grumbling if they have gotten too many employees accustomed to such perks as on-site massages, laundry service, and climbing walls. Dropbox said in a filing this year that it spent $25,000 in perks on every employee.

McKinney took note of the software-hardware interdependence of the mid-1980s Hewlett-Packard. His story about the era when the 3000 was growing fastest includes references to the HP 150, PC software created to enhance the value of such hardware, and a multi-division company that was ready to roll out something way ahead of its time called NewWave for PCs.

He praised HP in that oral history interview and can help us see how people like Guy Paul were attracted to—and stayed with—the HP that was built upon the Way.

When HP got in the minicomputer business...there was the HP 1000 and the HP 9000 and the HP 3000 and the HP 250 and then it kind of got all sorted out and they said, “Oh, we need [to have] one architecture and we need to be able to market [a product line].” One of the interesting parts about HP is it's just a very creative place and somehow it gets rationalized in time and [inter-divisional] doesn't become a general problem.

The part of HP that was split off, PCs, took its first steps in HP as a product to sell to 3000 customers. McKinney explained that 3000 begat PCs at HP.

In the beginning of this period there was still a hope that we could build a proprietary architecture [PC] product. Now obviously, how you sell it was one of the issues. Well I think in the beginning the [market for our PC] was major accounts who were buying the HP 3000. This is a little bit like the saying: “when the only tool that you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.”

The 3000 was that hammer in an era where some top talent worked at Hewlett-Packard. It's refreshing to see that the subtitle of the new book is "Why Strategic Leadership Matters." The answer: you want to be around for decades making a difference and growing by 20 percent a year from 1958-1998. The HP of the Way did that and built the 3000, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:02 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 26, 2016

MPE/iX to private licensees: A new HP way?

ThinQ FridgeFifteen years ago HP was cutting its 3000 business loose and software vendors scrambled. A few of the bigger ones, like Adager, were looking for a way to buy the MPE/iX assets from Hewlett-Packard. Nothing could be arranged. However, HP recently started posting notices about its patented technology it's trying to license. 

The IAM Market (free registration required) has started to hawk the intellectual property of both sides of the HP, a company about to mark the first anniversary of its split-up. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is offering a range of patents, all designed to let a company use HP technology to serve business users.

HPE Patent Sale – Mission Critical Computing Portfolio

46 issued patents (41 US, 2 JP, 2 GB, and 1 FR) relating to servers and storage products for Mission Critical Computing (MCC). Key applicable areas include High Availability, High Reliability, Replication/Failover, SSD/HDD, System Management.

Except for that SSD element, everything in the portfolio could fall into the realm of HP 3000 and MPE technology. If only such a marketplace existed 15 years ago. More importantly, if only HP was actively licensing its IP back then. Something could have been worked out. Today, at least there's a mechanism for listing patents for sale and finding interested buyers.

By the time the 3000 pullout at HP started to set in stone during 2002, the licensing discussion was being steered toward emulator-ready user licenses. Meanwhile, the source code licenses were more than seven years away from being a reality.

For many customers, the only issue that matters is the licensing of MPE to be used on an emulator that mimics HP 3000s running on Intel hardware. Rumors continued to abound that HP is proposing the destruction of a licensed HP 3000 for every MPE license for an emulator that a customer wanted to deploy. The 3000’s longest advocates are howling over that possibility.

“It’s clear that HP’s intention is to limit the MPE user community to the number of licenses at the time of its death,” said Wirt Atmar of AICS Research, “thereafter drawing the population constantly downwards over the years. This is completely opposite to the future that I believe is possible, where MPE would be distributed world-wide, at prices comparable to Linux distributions.”

Emulator licensing makes the Stromasys Charon product a realistic choice for companies keeping their HP 3000s in use, either as permanent archive machines or in production. But the software communnity was reaching for so much more in the months following HP's 2001 notice of a pullout. Perhaps those MPE/iX bits, as well as the related subsystems, are available today.

The only companies who've even seen MPE/iX source, to use as a support and development reference, are the eight licensees of the code. They don't get to sell it or release modified MPE/iX. But it's there as a resource for support providers like Pivital Solutions and software companies as well.

Any dreams of restarting an MPE/iX business would have to begin with IP licensed for commercial use.

Stranger things have happened. The HP WebOS software developed for the Palm smartphones, as well as the heart of ill-fated HP tablet, found its way into LG Smart TVs, after all. At one point, LG was planning a range of consumer devices that would use the HP IP which the vendor sold to LG. LG never got WebOS into its ThinQ line of refrigerators. MPE/iX, should it ever go into the market, might become an item of the IAM Market.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:14 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 12, 2016

HP sells software business to boring buyer

Grace_HopperMicro Focus, which has already bought Attachmate (nee WRQ) and Acucorp (maker of a COBOL that was once fine-tuned for the 3000) is now sitting on what HP was selling that Hewlett-Packard Enterprise calls software. Like Autonomy, for example. The latter is probably valued at one-tenth what the-CEO Leo Apotheker's HP board paid for it five years ago. Admiral Grace Hopper's invention has ultimately provided a harbor for HP's exit from the software sector. The buyer builds COBOL.

The entire transaction only costs Micro Focus -- makers of boring software that drives thousands of businesses -- $8.8 billion on paper. HP's is cashing out of software for application delivery management, big data, enterprise security, information management and governance, and IT operations management. With Autonomy in the deal, the company HP purchased for $11 billion in 2011, HPE gets an albatross off its back.

Here's one shakeout: Minisoft is now the only vendor selling 3000-ready terminal emulation that remains under the same vendor brand. WRQ has been absorbed, and HP's out of the terminal business they started with AdvanceLink in the 1980s. (Minisoft's still selling connectivity software to MPE/iX users, too — as in active sales, this year.) HP sells almost zero 3000 software today.

A Reuters report says the HPE move tilts its business mix hard towards hardware, with two-thirds of what's left at HP Enterprise now devoted to a sector with slim margins. HP has stopped much of its operating system development over the last 15 years, casting off OpenVMS and MPE/iX, then stalling HP-UX short of a transformation to Intel-ready software. Instead, MPE/iX got its Intel introduction post-HP, when Stromasys made its Charon HPA the gateway to x86.

NonStop remains a part of to HP's enterprise group and enjoys development, but it's tied to Itanium chips. Nothing left in the Business Critical Systems group -- HP-UX, VMS, NonStop -- gets any love anymore during HP's analyst briefings.

HP software, aside from operating systems, could provide a frustrating experience for 3000 customers. Transact and Allbase were strategic, until they were not. IMAGE got removed from the 3000-bundled status it enjoyed. HP had to farm out its ODBC lab work to keep up during the 1990s.

The deal between HP and Micro Focus gets more unusual when you see that HPE has to pay Micro Focus $2.5 billion in cash. In exchange, HPE shareholders will own 50.1 percent of Micro Focus. HPE wanted to get its software out of its enterprise business and into the hands of a company with business success in software. Micro Focus built its rep on embracing backbone technology like mainframe connectivity and COBOL.

HPE's CEO Meg Whitman said that Micro Focus knows how to invest in software. The company, which owns the Reflection product line, is supposed to keep HP's software stable.

"Micro Focus' approach to managing both growing and mature software assets will ensure higher levels of investment in growth areas," Whitman said, "like big data analytics and security, while maintaining a stable platform for software products that customers rely on."

Reliability and boring are sometimes conflated, but a stable platform is often built upon software with both attributes. UBS analyst Steve Milunovich, who tracks HPE, said HP's sell off of assets is "strategy that works well for current shareholders, who gain significant ownership in better-run businesses." A company whose backbone is COBOL now owns HP's software assets — a line that lost its COBOL compiler when the 3000 was dismissed.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:18 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 29, 2016

HP's Unix Demise, and Rise of the Machine

Star-Trek-HP-MachineThere it is, HP's nouveau The Machine. Ready to do work in the Star Trek era. A bedrock to 23d Century tech, we're told.

Alternatives to MPE/iX and HP 3000s amount to about four choices. Windows, Unix, Linux, and non-HP environments comprise this list that migration projects assess. Most of the time the choice leads to an application or a suite of apps to replace the MPE computing. When the door of migration has been kicked open by an environment re-boot, though, then discussion of operating systems is worth time spent in study.

HP-UX came of age in an era when the 3000 became the old-era product on Hewlett-Packard strategy slide decks. Unix was an open environment in a simple review. Deeper study showed most Unixes carried a stamp of the vendor selling the OS. HP's was no different. Now the demise of HP-UX is being debated, especially among those who do their work in that environment. Almost 4,000 members of an HP-UX Users group on LinkedIn heard from Bill Hassell about the future of HP-UX.

"Reports of the demise of HP-UX are greatly exaggerated," he said in reply to a taunt from Dana French, a fan of IBM's Unix. The lack of a major Version 12 release is of no concern, either.

Itanium and HP-UX are dead? This is definitely not the case as the attendees at the HP-UX BootCamp found out in April. HP-UX will be fully supported on current and future hardware beyond 2020. With the addition of de-dupe on VxFS filesystems and containers for legacy systems, new features will continue to expand the most stable OS in enterprise server offerings. The lack of version 12 is an acknowledgement to hundreds of application providers (not just Oracle) that a major release number change is very costly in regression testing and certification. Instead, major functionality is released as an update to 11.31.

Rise-of-HPs-MachineHP hasn't been the greatest help in telling this story of the stable HP-UX's holdout, a tale that's important to several thousand 3000 users who've migrated to HP-UX since 2002. Instead, another version of The Machine, the HP computer intended to make all others obsolete, will appear like it's been transported from a starship. This is a product with no known OS. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise doesn't talk much about operating systems. The Machine has been touted this year like it's a keystone to the future. That's why Star Trek's images have been employed to let this tech vision rise up.

There's nothing wrong with continuing to use HP-UX, according to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. The future belongs to another platform, though. In one of the more surprising aspects to the story about The Machine, the man who hawked it hardest will soon retire from HP. Martin Fink did a lot of work on behalf of keeping HP-UX in orbit, too. It's a matter of debate about how quickly that orbit is degrading.

Fink is the first leader of HP Labs to leave the company in mid-project. Just as this year's prototype of The Machine edges into reality, he'll take his three decades of Hewlett-Packard experience into retirement. CEO Meg Whitman said “Martin has had a remarkable career, driving some of our most important initiatives, including our cloud, open source and Linux strategies, and leading the Business Critical Systems division and The Machine." She added that he left his mark on HP.

We'll overlook the marks of performance from the Business Critical Systems division of HP. It holds the future of HP-UX in its hands, but it's a group that C-level HP management has written off as a money-maker. The Machine is getting the television ad time this month, not HP-UX.

MPE/iX once was hungry for attention, too. It mattered even more to the 3000 user than this month's ads matter to Integrity server sites. The 3000 clan was already beset by HP's inattention inside the company. Hassell and others say that an April BootCamp for HP-UX and a Kittson chip to run the OS look like a steady future. 

Just like the NewsWire and its sponsors have a dog in the 3000 fight, Hassell has decades of knowledge and expertise in the struggle for HP-UX. When Hassell stops setting the record in place about the OS, then the 3000 converts to HP-UX will know the end is near. He's says that there's another nine years of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise support in the pipe.

That will be nine years that HP uses to try to make The Machine something more real than a prop in a Star Trek commercial. There's no BootCamp for the memristor memory substrate, silicon photonics, a new operating system, and customized chips, all essentials to The Machine. The HP project for the future of another Enterprise — yours — has been a talking point for more than two years. HP talked about a 3000 architecture replacement for more than five years before anything shipped.

Hp-memristor-roadmapIf The Machine is lucky enough to earn the attention that HP gave to PA-RISC, then HP-UX will still have eight years of support left when the first Machine goes out of the HP Labs doors. Fink might be there in an emeritus role to wave it into the future. The timeline above shows The Machine shipping in 2018, but HP walked back that plan last year. PA-RISC had its delays too, but it was still part of HP Labs director Frank Carrubba's job when the first systems emerged in 1987. HP credits him as one of two inventors. The other was Joel Birnbaum, the scientist who campaigned for RISC adoption after he came to HP in 1981 from IBM.

The Machine is rising in a different manner than the PA-RISC architecture which made the HP-UX takeover a reality. The realism kicks in for The Machine because HP said it will "accelerate the time it takes to drive technology from research and development to commercialization. We will move Hewlett Packard Labs into the Enterprise Group." And so pure research takes its dive into a product organization at HP. Fink is the last director of an autonomous HP Labs to hold the job.

The customers who invested in HP's prior offering for vendor-specific tech—those HP-UX users—must now rely on Fink's management vision to carry them into a new generation of their Enterprise. Linux on Intel is a more likely next-generation for HP's Unix customers. It's a choice that needs no special vision. Linux is the open system software that HP-UX was touted to become. The migration to Linux is already underway at 3000 sites which adopted HP's Unix. They're can't tap the power of a transporter, but then neither can HP.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:12 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 27, 2016

Did PCs hold Hewlett-Packard off the pace?

HPE-vs.-HPQ-Stock-2016Stock activity is the best-quantified way to assess the strength and prospects for a vendor. Few of the HP 3000 vendors ever reported stock pricing, so we always swung our spotlight on the system creator's stock. The results became entertaining after HP stopped making 3000s—but rarely entertaining in a good way. 

Now it appears that shedding its New Money products has pushed Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's stock into fresh territory. HPE hit the low $20s of share price this week. That's a 52-week high, and even higher if factoring in the fact the stock was chopped in two last fall.

Operating systems, software and hardware are only part of the story at HPE. Services were brought across in November, but their performance has skidded. As the break-off firm that reclaimed the HP Old Money business computing that drove enterprises, however, HPE has had a better time since the splitup. HPQ, making a living off the PCs and printers, remained under $14 a share today. The companies started out with equal assets and stock prices. What Enterprise has changed is the company's focus. The vendor is no longer trying to be everything to everybody.

Earlier this summer HPE announced it was getting even leaner. The enterprise services business, which bulked up HP's headcount and revenues as a result of acquiring 144,000 employees from EDS, will now be a separate entity. The move pushes HP closer to the business target it pursued while it was making the HP 3000 soar: sales to IT enterprises of software and hardware. This time around, they want to sell cloud computing too. But the old Apps on Tap program for the 3000 in the late '90s was a lot like that, too.

The extra systems focus, coupled with the stagnant action on the PC-printer side, suggests that straying from enterprise computing was a boat-anchor move. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has put a new-era spin on the box-and-software pursuit, though. The CEO says putting Services on a separate course makes HPE a company with 100 percent of its revenues channel partner-driven. In effect it means all deals need a third party. This is the course the old HP could never adopt, much to the consternation of 3000 vendors.

What does it look like when HPE says it's an all-channel vendor? CEO Meg Whitman explained the enthusiasm in an article for Computer Reseller News.

"The message for the partner community around this spinoff is we now are even more enthusiastic about the partner community -- if that is even possible -- because we are pretty enthusiastic," said Whitman in an interview with CRN at June's Discover conference. "We have got to partner even more aggressively with our partner community to deliver software, to deliver converged infrastructure, to deliver hyper-converged. We have no business now that doesn't go through partners."

The convergence of software vendors with a system vendor got a short-circuit in the 1990s. HP adopted printer-style distribution and reseller strategies for its enterprise products. What was once a company-led salesforce became fractured. Software companies that built their business around an HP they knew and partnered with saw the company's focus tilt away from fine-tuned environments like MPE. Commodity computing ruled and the march toward Somebody Else's OS accelerated.

In the new Hewlett-Packard, commodity belongs on the HP Inc. side of the split-up vendor. All of those bodies selling and providing services will now be part of a mega-support corporation HPE is spinning off to Computer Sciences Corporation. Less commodity, less headcount-driven business—it makes the new entity feel more like the old company of the HP Way. Long gone, but apparently not forgotten at the executive level.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:47 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 20, 2016

Cloud patterns now private, MRP affairs

Moving CloudsTwo years ago this week we reported that Hewlett-Packard would be spending $1 billion on developments for HP Helion, its private and public cloud offering for enterprise customers. The spending was scheduled to take place over the coming two years, so now's a good time to examine the ceiling of clouds for HP. It turned out to be lower than expected.

That spending plan for Helion outlasted the public version of the cloud service. Within a year of the $1 billion mission statement, HP was saying the company had no business in a cloud space dominated by Amazon Web Services and others. By this January, the final cloud customers at the Helion public service had moved their clouds elsewhere. HP Helion private clouds march onward in a world where the vendor controls all elements in a deal, rather than competing in a tumultuous market. A private cloud behaves more like the HP 3000 world everybody knows: a means to management of dedicated resources.

The use of cloud computing to replace HP 3000 manufacturing applications is reaching beyond hypotheticals this summer. Terry Floyd, founder of the manufacturing services firm The Support Group, has been working with Kenandy to place the cloud company's solution in a classic 3000 shop. A project will be underway to make this migration happen this summer, he said. 

The 3000 community that's been moving has been waiting for cloud solutions. Kenandy is the company built around the IT experience and expertise of the creators of MANMAN. They've called their software social ERP, in part because it embraces the information exchange that happens on that social network level. But from the viewpoint of Floyd, Kenandy's was waiting for somebody from the 3000 world to hit that teed-up ball. Kenandy has been tracking 3000 prospects a long time. The company was on hand at the Computer History Museum for the ultimate HP3000 Reunion in 2011.

The Kenandy solution relies on the force.com private cloud, operated by Salesforce.com. Smaller companies, the size of 3000 customers, use Salesforce. The vendor's got a force.com cloud for apps beyond CRM. Floyd said in 2015, "When the project kicks off next year, because we think Kenandy is a good fit for them."

The longer that small companies wait out such cloud pushes as HP's $500 million per year, the better the value becomes for getting onto their cloud. The effort migrates datacenter ops outside company walls, a big shift in 3000-heyday thinking. After its public cloud flame-out, HP ultimately worked to convince companies to build their own private clouds. The option that's firming up this summer is renting cloud apps from firms like Kenandy and Salesforce.

Floyd and his company have said there's good value in switching to cloud-based ERP for some customers. Customization of the app becomes the most expensive issue.

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

April 18, 2016

A Parts Supply Non-Problem for HP's 3000

CR2032One part of Hewlett-Packard's end-game fantasy about the 3000 pointed to parts. This was a server the vendor wouldn't build after 2003, HP warned. You could not be sure your server and its essentials could be serviced -- where would the parts come from? For the last decade and more, HP's 3000 parts have come from everywhere. About the only hardware services supplier constricted by the halt in HP manufacturing of parts was -- wait for it -- HP.

While practicing the careful shrink-wrapping of HP-built replacement motherboards, disks, IO buses and power supplies, the market has shared and sold ample hardware to replace 3000 systems. One reseller reported on the 3000-L he has hundreds of HP 3000 terminals on hand and was ready to send them to the scrapper. There might be sites where HP's tubes are essential for production operations, but I hope not. The scrap heap looks like the next stop for those 700/92s.

On the other hand, there are a few consumable items that make HP's hardware hum. One is essential to smooth operation of a service processor. You can get a replacement part for this processor at your grocery store.

Craig Lalley reported this week that a customer needed their Guardian Service Processor looked after inside the HP 3000 hardware. The GSP is mighty useful for an A-Class or N-Class customer. However, it carries a battery inside that dies, like all batteries do.

14B-1989(I still have an HP 14B calculator here, given to me as a 1989 HP 50th anniversary memento, which fires up each time I press the On key. I used to think it was solar-powered. How could any batteries last 27 years? Ah, the HP of old. Perhaps those batteries came by way of a NASA supplier.) 14B Leatherette

And the GSP's battery? Lalley says it's a CR2032, a part HP installed in a commercial server that once sold for tens of thousands of dollars. Or to put it another way, without ever owning an HP 3000, I've got a replacement part for an essential 3000 subassembly sitting right here in my hutch. Right next to that 14B with its 1989 batteries.

There are good reasons why HP's hardware for MPE/iX may not be a wise very-long-term component for production computing. But a lack of parts never was a good reason back in 2002 -- and it's just a tall tale today, even if the parts are aged like fine wine.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:40 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 01, 2016

MPE source code ID'ed as key to encryption

In a news item that appeared in our inbox early this morning, the researchers at the website darkstuff.com report they have identified the key algorithm for iPhone cracking software to be code from the 1980 release of Q-MIT, a version of MPE. The iPhone seized as part of an FBI investigation was finally cracked this week. But the US government agency only reported that an outside party provided the needed tool, after Apple refused to build such software.

IPhone crackThe specific identity of the third party firm has been clouded in secrecy. But the DarkStuff experts say they've done a reverse trace of the signature packets from the FBI notice uploaded to CERT and found links that identify Software House, a firm incorporated in the 1980s which purchased open market source code for MPE V. The bankruptcy trustee of Software House, when contacted for confirmation, would not admit or deny the company's involvement in the iPhone hack.

A terse statement shared with the NewsWire simply said, "Millions of lines of SPL make up MPE, and this code was sold legally to Software House. The software does many things, including operations far ahead of their time." HP sold MPE V source for $500 for the early part of the 1980s, but 3000 customers could never get the vendor to do the same for MPE/iX.

Lore in the 3000 community points to D. David Brown, an MPE guru who ran a consulting business for clients off the grid and off the books, as the leading light to developing the key. An MPE expert who recently helped in the simh emulation of Classic HP 3000s confirmed that Brown's work used HP engineering of the time in a way the vendor never intended. Simh only creates a virtualized CISC HP 3000 running under Linux, so MPE V is the only OS that can be used in simh.

"Lots of commented-out code in there," said the MPE expert, who didn't want to be named for this story. "Parts of MPE got written during the era of phone hacking. Those guys were true rebels, and I mean in a 2600-style of ethics. It's possible that Brown just stumbled on this while he was looking for DEL/3000 stubs in MPE."

The FBI reported this week that its third party also plans to utilize the iPhone cracker in two other cases that are still under investigation. Air-gapped protocols were apparently needed to make the MPE source able to scour the iPhone's contents, using a NAND overwrite. The air gapping pointed the DarkStuff experts toward the HP 3000, a server whose initial MPE designs were years ahead of state-of-the art engineering. "Heck, the whole HP 3000 was air-gapped for the first half of its MPE life," said Winston Rather at DarkMatter. "It's a clever choice, hiding the key in plain sight."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:34 PM in History, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 23, 2016

Putting a CPUNAME on HPSUSAN's profile

The MPE is a most unique creature of the computer ecosystem. This is software that does not have its own license, specifically. According to HP, the ownership of any MPE/iX version is determined by ownership of an Hewlett-Packard 3000 server, one built to boot up MPE/iX. When a copy of MPE is moved onto a Charon virtualized server, it must come from one that's been assigned to one of HP's 3000s. 

SusanWe reached out for clarity about this when a major manufacturer was looking into replacing HP's 3000 iron with Charon licenses on Intel systems. After the MPE/iX software is turned off on any replaced 3000 hardware, does its hardware-based license then expire? The operating system license, according to HP's MPE Technical Consultant Cathlene Mc Rae, is related to the HPSUSAN of the original HP hardware.

So wait a minute. Are these HPSUSAN numbers of 3000s considered de-licensed, even if they're going to be used on the Charon emulator? Mc Rae explained.

The HPSUSAN number is different from the MPE/iX license, although there is a relation between the two. The ability to use MPE/iX on the emulator is a result of completing a Software License Transfer. The original MPE/iX license on the HP e3000 would then no longer exist. 

In the hardware world of HP 3000s, HPSUSAN takes the original serial and model numbers on the system. It remains the same, as long as the customer owns the system. This combination was used to ID the hardware and enable diagnostics for the correct system.

However, that transferred license for the MPE/iX installation on the Charon emulator -- available via a $432 Software License Transfer Fee -- won't be getting a new HPSUSAN number during the process. HPSUSAN gets re-used, and so it leads us to see what HPSUSAN stands for, and how the HPCPUNAME is a key in emulator installations.

The U in HPSUSAN stands for Unique, as in System Unique Serially Assigned Number. Mc Rae said that HPSUSAN is one of a kind for HP-built 3000 systems. But SUSAN doesn't designate an MPE/iX license, even though MPE is licensed via hardware ownership. 

Mc Rae explained to us, and to any Charon prospective user, "MPE hardware and software was created before the technology of  virtual systems and emulators, in the 1970s. Licenses were based on hardware ownership."

This sounds familiar. HP once compared the licensing of MPE/iX to license plates issued for a car. They could not be separated, these numbers and the car that was the HP 3000 iron. (Let's just put aside the common practice of those metal-plate days, when they'd give you a new number after your plate was older than 8 years in Texas.)

In 1999, HP was busy suing Hardware House and a few other resellers over the resellers' separation of HPSUSANs from HP's 3000 hardware cars. The House was taking other PA-RISC servers and pressing valid HPSUSAN numbers onto the non-3000 iron. People went to jail. Lo-jacks were ordered for ankles.

Thanks to the passage of 17 years' time, an HPSUSAN number can now move to a USB thumb drive plugged into a Charon Intel- or AMD-based server. Those license plates can travel to a newer model of car. The emulator's HPCPUNAME, however, can only be designated as an A-Class or N-Class system, according to HP's knowledge. That'll likely be a reason to contact all software vendors whose products operate on the replaced HP 3000 iron.

You see, vendors use a combo of HPSUSAN and HPCPUNAME to control licensing. Products such as Infor's MANMAN or PowerHouse not only want to read HPSUSAN -- which you can move to Charon  -- but also HPCPUNAME. If you're moving off a Series 979, for example, "979-100" isn't an emulated system under Charon. No 979-100 for HPCPUNAME. You've got to get license permission from your software vendors to enable an A-Class or N-Class HPCPUNAME.

The HPCPUNAME on the Charon system may not be set to 979, Mc Rae said. "Based on the Charon HPA/3000 family, it is assumed that the HPCPUNAME will be set to an A-Class or N-Class CPUNAME," she said. "For example: HPCPUNAME = SERIES e3000/A500-200-50. As far as I know, Charon can only emulate A- and N-Class systems." That's true: a Series 9xx model isn't on the HPA/3000 product list.

The silver lining in this cloud is that you're only doing this contacting and CPUNAME-changing once. Moving to an A-Class or faster CPU from a 9x9 system is the last time you'll be changing from an unsupported CPUNAME to something included in the Charon product line. 

In short, independent software vendors are going to have to be contacted, if they've licensed their products with the HPCPUNAME-HPSUSAN combo on a Series 9xx. Contacting your software vendors about a system upgrade is a fair business practice. But it's more than the right thing to do. Series 9xx users headed to the emulator look like they need that refresh to boot up their indie software.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:05 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 11, 2016

What HP's Synergy is Poised to Deliver

HPE-Synergy-with-Storage-Module-pulled-out_low-e1449462201196"Over the next several months, the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will be shipping a fresh IT platform it calls Synergy. This won't feature a new processor family and it's not going to feature a new operating environment for business customers. Understanding what Synergy might do was a big topic in last month's HP Discover show in London. The product seems to be aimed at changing your plans for IT investment, without sacrifices, as a regular business process.

HP and IBM have sold this concept before, going as far back as the days when you'd buy more computing power than you first planned, just by turning on CPUs and cycles. The vendors levied a temporary charge back then, a bill that would show up like extra long distance fees. Synergy is leagues more complex than that, but it's got a similar aim. Overprovisioning -- stacking up too much power in reserve — will be the black mark to be erased in IT planning.

Like all of HP's innovations, Synergy's only connection to the world of the 3000 exists in leaving the MPE platform. It's a destination, this product HP expects to ship before mid-year. No one knows about its pricing, but the fluid resource pools, auto discovery capabilities, and containerized applications are supposed to reduce the overprovisioning by as much as 60 percent. HP says that will cut immediate capital expenditures up to 17 percent, and cost of ownership capital expenditures up to 30 percent.

The challenge in adapting a new mindset that focuses on resources rather than platforms, one that thinks of apps as pop-up shops, lies in translating the IT-speak of our current decade. We've found an article that does a good job of that, so you can see the hardware and software inside Synergy from a perspective of the IT planning of 15 years ago.

"The new platform named Synergy an is based around the idea of composable infrastucture – hardware that can be programatically composed into the desired form for a specific use case," writes Peter Sellers at the website Techazine.com. Sellers looks like he's got in-trench experience in IT, rather than consultant credentials. The website identifies him as "a senior-level systems administrator for America’s largest telephone cooperative, Horry Telephone Cooperative in South Carolina. Sellers writes

The Synergy platform follows up on the Project Synergy concept HP introduced during the June Discover event in Las Vegas. While HPE has been working with third-parties to get support for its API for composable infrastructure, it was also creating the new generation of hardware needed to power the concept.

It's often a revelation to see new-speak tech explained in classic IT management terms. The article is worth a read. Synergy is likely to be the product the new HPE will push in 2016. The language here sounds like it could be spoken by a manager whose job is to administer hardware, rather than write white papers.

Synergy trims down the number of compute slots from 16 to 12. When asked why, HPE execs told me that the goal of the Synergy platform was to power compute for the next 10 years and that meant flexibility not density as a primary concern. Some peer bloggers scoffed at the 10-year future for the platform, but as an HP customer, that is the lifetime I have received from my existing C7000 BladeSystems as a platform, which are approaching a 10 year anniversary.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:23 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 31, 2015

Throwing Back, and Looking Forward

We'll be taking tomorrow off to celebrate the new year. But first, some HP news.

Mighty Mouse adHewlett-Packard employees are still having meetings around the 3000. They are employees retired from HP, mostly, and the meetings are not at the HPE campus. Before you get too excited about a wish for a new business prospect for the 3000's new year, I should say these are reunions of a sort. A holiday party happened for CSY happened just before Christmas.

The revelers from that party included some people still working for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Corp. But it was a way to look back, and in one of our Throwback Thursday moments it give us a chance to savor people who made the 3000 what it once was. The wishes are for what might still be.

The meeting was wrapped around a brunch held on the Monday before Christmas and held in Cupertino. Arriving at 9AM in Cupertino to enjoy the company of people with MPE savvy must have felt like a throwback. The notice showed up on Facebook, sent among 43 people with a lot of names you'd recognize from community leadership and tech savvy. "Just seeing all your names makes me happy," one CSY veteran said.

HP legacy adLike the HP3000 Reunion of 2011, people couldn't attend who wanted to do so. One said he was going to reschedule a meeting of his with today's HP so he could rejoin his comrades. Plenty of throwbacks in CSY work for other companies by now. Somebody else in the 3000 community wishes that current HP employees could work in the service of MPE. It won't be among HPE's New Year's Resolutions, but the sentiment illustrates where the 3000 could travel next year.

"Hopefully 2016 will bring renewed rational decision-making by the new folks running the new HP," says 3000 customer Tim O'Neill, "and they will once again concentrate on making excellent hardware matched with software that gives customers reason to buy HP. Maybe they'll bring renewed emphasis on MPE/iX homesteading on Stromasys, instead of a purposeful blind rush towards alternatives."

It's possible that HP, now morphing into Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, might have changed enough to be a company the 3000 community would want to associate with it. While looking over the replies to the holiday CSY party, I saw names of good people. Top HP executives were not among these retirees, although Winston Prather chipped in good wishes.

Good things can happen in 2016, but even Tim O'Neill knows that HP hardware running MPE will not see any reunion with the customers who held it dear. Not unless it's a high-powered ProLiant running the Charon emulator.

"HP could announce HP-UX 12.00 running on HP hardware, even if the HP hardware has Intel CPU in it," he suggests. Right now, HP-UX is destined to an 11.4 release for the rest of its lifespan. The vendor isn't moving to Intel hardware with HP-UX, just NonStop. VMS is heading for independent ownership.

O'Neill adds that "Some people I know are buying HP components like blades or storage, but not whole systems. For example, they buy HP blades then run VMWare on them. Curious customers could ask "Why buy HP if you are not running HP software?"

The reason for buying HP hardware speak to the changes in IT management. To celebrate the future with HP, you probably won't be concerned with its invented-here operating environments. Linux, Windows, all the successors to MPE from the commodity world are driving replacements. If the sting has left your cheek from a slap delivered more than a decade ago, then a 2016 with HPE products in it will not be a pipe dream. If Winston's name didn't make you shudder, you've moved onward.

The calendar always moves onward, after all, but the 3000 community tends to remain — even as it does its own morphing into new work. The Christmas meeting "shows why the old HP was so special," one 3000 vet said in a Facebook reply. "Long after CSY and the HP3000 are gone, co-workers are still getting together. What a testament to Dave and Bill's HP."

Happy New Year to you all. We will look forward to new developments, technical or otherwise, in 2016.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:41 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 18, 2015

Will The Farce always be with us?

Carly FaceIt was well past quitting time this week when I saw the force re-awaken on my TV. In our den, that television is a 7-year-old Bravia LCD, which in TV terms is something like an N-Class server today. A fine midrange machine for its day, but mostly revered now for its value. We paid for it long ago and it continues to work without worries or repairs. Remaining 3000 owners, raise your hands if that's your situation.

On the Bravia, Abby and I watched Steven Colbert's late-night show. Like all of the talk shows it opened with comedy, because by 11:30 Eastern you're ready to laugh and forget the troubles of the day. Colbert poked fun at the latest Republican Presidential debate. You probably can see where this is going now, since a famous HP CEO remains in the running for that job.

Within a few minutes I watched the comedy lampoon of CNN's teaser for its debate broadcast. The leaders in that race swoosh by in close-ups, each with a light that washes across their face and their name blazing below. Trump. Cruz. Bush, and so on, but the lineup of hopefuls this week remains too long for everybody to get their name ablaze. The rest of CNN teaser included faces of other candidates, including the infamous Carly Fiorina. No name there.

But Colbert wasn't quite done. Following Carly's face were other close-ups. Faces from the cast of The Walking Dead washed across. We couldn't contain our delight at the skewering of Carly and the rest. HP's third-most-famous CEO was still having the last laugh, though, since HP became two companies as a result of merging with Compaq. Her Farce continues, even while the HP split-up tries to recover from the Hewlett-Packard fall she induced.

HP Star Wars laptopWe kept watching, even through the late hour, because a J.J. Abrams-Harrison Ford skit would air after the commercial. Oh, what an ad, how it pushed along The Farce. HP Inc. rolled out a commercial for its new Star Wars-themed laptop, a device so crucial to HP Inc success the laptop was mentioned in the latest quarterly analyst report. The tsunami of Star Wars branding is at its peak today while the critically acclaimed blockbuster opens to a sold-out weekend. HP's PC is just the kind of thing Carly would tout with a stage appearance. Thinking a laptop will make a $50 billion corporation's needle move is something of a Farce, but you never know. Nobody knew that The Farce of Carly's HP could cleave off a loyal customer base, either. Then there's the farce of Carly's convenient truthiness about her role in what she did while leading at HP.

It was leadership, but down into a ditch. HP's breakup is the evidence that becoming the biggest computer maker in the world — one that didn't want to make 3000s anymore — was a mistake, if not a misdeed. Low margins on big sales didn't endear customers for decades. The 3000 people stayed true to HP for decades, at least a couple. Unique products like 3000s, not Star Wars laptops, paid the bills with their profits.

Yes, it's a Farce. But will it always be with us, we luminous beings of the MPE community? How can we forgive the past when it's so difficult to forget? It made me wonder how and when we might let Hewlett-Packard off the mat, even while Carly's Farce plays out its end days.

When I posed that question to Abby — as she recovered from a hip replacement which my government is helping fund with her Medicare — Abby said it might not be soon. Our futures changed, like yours, when the 3000 became an End of Lifer in the new Very Large HP. Carly's Farce was believing a very large corporation would continue its growth unchecked. Endless growth isn't possible in economics, but endless devotion might be something real, not a farce.

I say of a few people, "I'll hate 'em until I die." It's unkind and unskilled. But mostly it's about sports, a place where passion lives. The 3000 owners, some of them anyway, displayed that kind of passion. Derek Fisher, the Laker who killed off my beloved San Antonio Spurs' chance to defend a title, tossing in a miracle shot with 0.4 seconds left — him, I'll hate until I die. Abby and I sat in seats in the ATT Center and watched that 2004 devastation. We'd already been blindsided by HP more than two years earlier. But for a Lakers fan, Fisher's shot was a stellar moment. Some HP reps and execs found that End of Life promise about the 3000 to be a stellar moment. It rattled my faith in HP. We could all have faith in HP until 2001. HP's first and second most famous CEOs saw to that, because their names were on the company.

Why You FailAs it turns out, faith is at the heart of The Force. The newest movie restores the faith of the Original Three films, but none more so than The Empire Strikes Back. Deep at its core that 1980 movie contains an exchange between Luke and Yoda. The young Jedi is trying to raise his X-Wing out of the Degobah swamp, using the Force. He struggles to lift it and collapses. Yoda takes over and the small creature uses the Force. The fighter soon sits on a bank beside the swamp.

"I don't believe it," Luke says.

"That," says Yoda, "is why you fail."

Okay, forgive me for sharing a moment so dear to my heart. I considered Empire's story my religion, in my years after Catholicism. My point for the readers who are still with me is that belief, shown as faith, is essential to loyalty and continued growth. Apple is going to have to acknowledge, in time, that it's saturated the world's computer users. It'll be a moment like the late '90s when new 3000 customers became as rare as Integrity buyers of today. What's left, to continue the growth, is the same thing the old pre-Carly HP used. Repeat business from existing customers. That is something HP failed to recover, and so it could not lift its X-Wing of the 3000 out of the Hewlett-Packard miasma of "If it's not growing, it's going." The 3000 wasn't going to survive a Compaq merger where VAX systems competed with 3000s.

Waiting for a Jedi master like Yoda to teach us about any faith in the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise would be foolish. We don't need to learn, we have to unlearn what we have learned. Yoda told that to Luke. We need to unlearn our lessons about how a company could promote stock price and market size while its CEO knew and cared little about its products. That neglect might look like Apple coming to care little about its Mac line. Funny thing is, even while Apple made its cuts to the Mac, the force of faith remains strong in its customers. Mac sales keep growing, even while tablets cratered HP's Very Big plan, even while iPhones came to rule Apple rather than laptops and desktops.

LIke those laptops at Apple, there was always a core of profit in those phones, though. Apple charged more for them and relied on the faith of customers to remain loyal. I believe in the power of faith to move hearts and let us all survive the future. Once we have faith in Hewlett-Packard to hold its products in highest regard, instead of its growth and stock price, to see it pursue profits through quality and loyalty, we might release our anger.

Forgiveness is a vulnerable act. In forgiving we believe we're capable of trust after a mistake or a misdeed. Maybe after Carly exits the political field, I can work on forgiveness. She seems too shabby to hate until I die. Whenever forgiveness happens, that day could mark my start of leaving The Farce behind.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:48 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 11, 2015

Virtual testimony: sans servers, sans apps

ShakespeareFor the HP 3000 manager who looks at other platforms and longs for their range of choices, a testimonial from HP Enterprise Services might seem like catnip. A story about Lucas Oil that was touted in an email today shows how a 3000-sized IT department improved reliability with virtualization. The story also skips any chapters on application software. Sans servers, sans apps, sans uptime worries, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

It's a success story from HP Services, so it might not be so surprising that the details of custom software are missing. In summary, a two-person IT department (which sounds so much like 3000-class staffing) is cutting down on its physical servers by using a lower-cost quote for vitualization. Lower than Dell's, apparently, which is something of an indictment of VMware, perhaps. Dell and VMware are found everywhere together. Now they're going to belong in the same entity with the upcoming EMC acquisition.

But regarding the case study from HPE, it's more of a hardware infrastructure study rather than a full IT profile. Only Photoshop is mentioned among the software used at Lucas, the company somehow big enough to pay for naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts NFL stadium, but small enough to count on just two people to run a datacenter.

The basics in software tools are mentioned, the building blocks of Windows 2012 users: SQL Server, Windows, Active Directory. There's also a mention of an HR application, which tells us that there are custom apps in there, or HPE didn't consider software a part of the story. This is a testimonial about removing iron from IT. Garrett Geisert is the IT admin at Lucas.

Since we virtualized on our HPE ProLiant DL360 servers and HPE MSA 2040 SAN, management isn’t concerned about availability anymore, because we haven’t had an outage yet. Actually, we did have one outage in the last year but it was because of Google’s file servers, not ours. It’s sure been nice not having to tell people they can’t access their systems.

That's one set of choices that's not available to HP 3000 sites who haven't migrated, unless they consider Stromasys Charon to be a way to virtualize. Hardware failures were vexing Lucas Oil. It's the kind of problem any 3000 site has to plan for, with all of the drives out there being more than a decade old.

“If we had a single server with a bad hard drive or blown power supply, it meant kicking of all users of that application until we had the problem fixed," Geisert says in the testimonial. "For us, it could mean shutting down anything from a basic file server to HR to full-on Adobe Photoshop graphics."

Newer hardware can be a serious capital expense. Since migrated sites always have upgrade options — well, the ones that don't use HP-UX, anyway — this expense is always out there lurking, posing as a solution to problems like reliability. Buy newer drives. Buy better power supplies.

The virtualization solution at this 3000-sized IT shop puts multiple servers on a set of ProLiants, and the servers can take over for one another. In the 3000 world this was called high availability with a price tag to match. Virtualization's magic somehow cuts the cost of this while it manages software application nuances like tapping the right databases, even through a virtualized server failure.

It's just like me to think that because there's no application detail in the testimonial, it's not authentic. It makes me curious about whether those app databases needed revision to accommodate virtualization's payoffs. This might be a nuance that HP Services provided or consulted upon. A reseller is mentioned in the story, a resource that's not virtual at all. And everyone seems happy with all this is sans from the story, especially the downtime. It's been that way for HP 3000s for decades, too.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:07 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)