New utilities manipulate HP 3000 dates
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New utilities manipulate HP 3000 dates

Two third party offerings emerge to aid in Year 2000 projects and other MPE/iX developments

HP 3000 programmers and system managers can control time and date settings on their systems with two new solutions, utilities which surfaced within a month of HP's "Cure2000 for the HP 3000" training broadcast.

HourGlass 2000 from Allegro Consultants (415.369.2303) and Time Machine from SolutionSoft (408.988.7378) are both designed to simulate dates in the Year 2000 and beyond. The software is designed to simplify the testing phase of Year 2000 projects. The products allow developers and managers to create test dates that applications can use while the current system date remains unchanged.

HP's Kriss Rant said the products can be used to overcome a limitation in the MPE/iX operating system that keeps HP 3000s from booting with a date later than 2027. By simulating a date beyond that point to be used only by applications being tested, development managers can test programs' ability to accept dates far into the next century.

The utilities are also designed to simplify tests of date-sensitive processing: those operations which take place at the end of months, sales periods or quarters. The products allow companies to test new software functionality and train users for those cycles without waiting for those dates to arrive and without impacting normal system processing.

The solutions come from a pair of software houses with close ties to HP's MPE/iX development. HourGlass 2000 has been developed by programmers from Allegro Consultants, whose staff is working on enhancements for MPE/iX 5.5 and 6.0 under contract from HP. Time Machine was developed by Paul Wang, a former HP systems architect whose work includes the MPE/iX Transaction Manager.

Allegro's product is an HP 3000 implementation of a product first developed by Mainware, Inc. in 1993 for the IBM MVS mainframe market. HourGlass 2000 relies on an overall architecture and process designs developed by Mainware, but Allegro's Steve Cooper said the product was coded from the ground up for MPE/iX systems.

HourGlass 2000 supports the testing of batch and online application programs with future or past dates and times. Primarily used as a testing tool for Year 2000 projects, Allegro said the product is also useful in datacenter consolidation projects, testing end-of-period conditions, testing with dates that match previously extracted data as well as re-running reports for past dates. It supports all HP 3000 languages and databases, and all current releases of MPE/iX. Installation does not require a reboot.

By using HourGlass 2000, an altered date or time can be returned to selected applications or jobs. The product includes a utility that provides the ability to define rules that determine which applications (or programs or jobs) should be given altered dates or times, and what kind of altered dates or times should be returned. For example, all programs in @.PUB.SALES or all programs in the current job, might be given an altered date or time.

HourGlass 2000's altered dates and times can be an Absolute Constant Time (directing the system to always return 2000-01-1, 12:12); Constant Offset Time (today plus 10 years), or Step Start Time (progressing from an Absolute Constant Time).

Developers using the product can log Application/Job usage of date or time routines. Allegro said this provides the ability to determine which applications are using various date/time routines. Logging does not require using altered dates or times.

Time Machine also assists in software development, testing, training and operations, particularly Year 2000 conversion, testing and certification. It can be run from the MPE command prompt, a UDC, job stream, script, or within a program, and operates with any MPE/iX release from 4.0 and later. It also allows operations staff to preview month-end, quarter-end, year-end, or other date-sensitive processing before those periods occur. A virtual date can be specified by date, by relative years or using a running clock. Like HourGlass 2000, the product doesn't time-stamp files when closing them.

Time Machine returns a specified date or time whenever the application gets the system time without changing the system clock. Only the applications designated by the developer are affected by Time Machine. Each application can travel to a different point in time by specifying a different date. SolutionSoft's Paul Wang said his utility makes it possible to simultaneously test a month-end application for the date 7/3/2009 and a year-end application with the date 1/4/2010, while normal system processing is running using the current date.

The software is also a bundled component in SolutionSoft's new Time & Space Manager package (TSM), which also includes SolutionSoft's Compression Storage Manager (CSM). CSM compresses files in place by up to 95 percent while retaining the same names and attributes, and it can transparently decompress them upon access. CSM can double a system's disk capacity, thereby allowing more data (such as copies of production data files and source code revisions) to be kept online.

Wang said he's positioned TSM as "the safest and most economical solution for Year 2000 certification because it does not require you to purchase a separate system or double your disk space. With TSM, you can do all your Year 2000 development, testing, and training on your production system, using real data, without impacting your normal processing."

The most distinct differences between the products might lie in their pricing policies. HourGlass 2000 is priced at a flat cost for any HP 3000 regardless of size, while Time Machine is tier priced. HourGlass costs $5,900 for the first HP 3000, $4,950 for the second and $2,950 for the third and subsequent CPUs. Prices include first year of maintenance, which costs 15 percent of the purchase price annually after that. Time Machine is being introduced for a limited time at a starting price of $850 at its lowest tier plus $100 for the first year's maintenance.

Copyright 1997, The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved.
Ron Seybold, Editor In Chief The 3000 NewsWire Independent Information to Maximize Your HP3000 512-331-0075