you ever find yourself using the expression It goes without
saying? I know I do, only to find that, well, certain
situations do require an explanation. Never assume, and what is
obvious to you may be no such thing to others. Because ignorance, or
well-intentioned but misguided actions, are major components of worst
practices, I thought it useful to discuss two related topics that
have gone without saying.
Scrub Those Disks
When a system is being traded in, or perhaps even
discarded, it is imperative that all data residing on any associated
disk drives be permanently and irretrievably removed. Were all
technical enough to know that a simple PURGE command
doesnt really erase the data from the drives. Anyone
knowledgeable enough about disk drives and MPE could un-PURGE your
files and read their contents. Therefore, as a security measure, make
sure that files are truly deleted (reformat, overwrite with binary
zeros, or use any other favorite method).
course, Im assuming that you bother to delete files at all. In
discussions with remarketed equipment vendors I have heard about
drives where the previous owner didnt even bother to purge
files. Fortunately, these vendors have better things to do than
browse through somebody elses accounting data. And in the
process of testing, these drives are reformatted and overwritten. But
I wonder if company officers would be thrilled to know that sensitive
data went out the door intact. Rule of thumb: If you would shred it
in hardcopy, you should shred it electronically.
License to Get Killed
When explaining technical subjects to non-technical
individuals, I strive for illuminating, non-technical metaphors.
Consider this one: You purchase a used car. Upon opening the glove
compartment you find a credit card that is not in your name. Do you
consider this credit card yours because you found it
inside your new car?
course not. Why? Because the card belongs to the person, not the
vehicle. The same might be true if that car had an extended warranty.
In a similar vein, my last house developed a leaky roof. I noticed in
the paperwork provided by the previous owner that the roof was still
under warranty. Guess what? The warranty was void because it was
associated with the previous owner and not the house.
Believe it or not, the same concept holds true for
software residing on your systems. Should you trade in a system (or
otherwise transfer it to another party) and neglect to scrub the
disks, the lucky new owner is not entitled to use that software. In
fact, if you replace your current system (System A) with a newer box
(System B) and correspondingly upgrade your software licenses onto
System B, you are not entitled to continue running that software on
System A (assuming you decide to keep System A for some other purpose
Why is this so? Because when you license software
and thats what youre doing, as opposed to
owning it you contract to run a specific copy on a
particular system tier. (Technically, even if you upgrade within the
same tier you should alert the vendor. Usually, the software checks
the HPSUSAN so you dont have a choice.) If you upgrade System
A, then transfer/upgrade the software to System B, you are still
licensing one copy for a specific system. If you keep System A and
dont remove the software (now licensed on System B), then by
continuing to run that same software on System A you are stealing the
use of one software license.
thought everyone knew that, but apparently not. I have heard recently
from vendors who tell me of customers inheriting software
on their systems and thinking they have a legal right to use it
because it came with the system. Heck, you
cant even do that with MPE! In fact, even if a company decides
to retire several boxes and their associated software, youre
still not entitled to run that software even though there is no net
increase in vendor licenses. You, my friend, must think of any newly
owned system as a blank slate. Even if the previous owner left the
software on the disks, its not yours until you purchase your
own license. Get over it.
Before this issue is put to rest, its worth
mentioning that sometimes not in your case of course, nor that
of anyone we know this misconception is not exactly based on
ignorance. There are lots of ways we rationalize doing something we
know is wrong, and I have seen my share of rationalizing.
Tiered pricing is a rip off, well only use it
until we get the money in the budget to pay for the upgrade,
were already paying them plenty for the other
licenses, etc. Lets just say that any company that runs
its business on pirated software is doing itself a disservice. And
once discovered say, when placing a support call you
will discover the joys of paying back support, if youre lucky
enough not to be prosecuted.
Keep It Clean
summary, a bad practice is to transfer ownership of a system without
wiping the disks electronically clean. If you dont do that,
shame on you.
worse practice is to use software that was left on a system you have
acquired. (By the way, its also unethical to view any data that
may have been left behind by a sloppy System Manager.) The only way
you are entitled to run software is by licensing it to your company
for that particular system. Any other use constitutes fraud. Shame on
should go without saying, but to reinforce what you already
Scott Hirsh (firstname.lastname@example.org) former chairman
of the SYSMAN Special Interest Group, is a partner at Precision
Systems Group (www.precisionsg.com, 510.435.4529), an authorized HP
Channel Partner which consults on HP OpenView, Maestro, Sys*Admiral
and other general HP 3000 and HP 9000 automation and administration