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January 2004

Homesteading: Plan for the Future

Staying on the platform means getting your system management in order

By Paul Edwards

The concept of homesteading comes from the 19th century US practice of people moving west to settle the open public lands. These rugged settlers had to endure many hardships to have a 160-acre plot of their own to cultivate and raise a family. Often they were far from their nearest neighbors and had to fend for themselves. My mother’s family used the land runs in Oklahoma territory to acquire land for their settlement. We still have several pieces of furniture in our house that my family carried in the wagons on these homesteading runs.

This homesteading concept applies to the HP 3000 site that will continue to provide self-support for the platform long after HP support is gone. Since its 2001 announcement, HP has not shown to be proactive in providing the kind of HP 3000 support you have been used to in the past. But you don’t have to be left out in the wilderness if you apply the information in this article.

This article addresses the situation of companies who will not migrate to another platform until sometime in the future, if ever. Having a well-maintained system environment is always essential to good corporate responsibility. We will discuss the available choices and what planning steps a company needs to take to properly face the future. Proper systems management information contained in a Systems Manager’s Notebook is needed to recreate the existing configuration in the event of an emergency, or to use in a future migration project. Hardware and software support, backup strategy and training, MPE/iX version considerations, and business issues will be explored, too.

Making Choices

There are several choices available to a company with one or more 3000 systems installed in their organization. These are:

1. Stay – A company can choose to continue to use the HP 3000 platform, or homestead, as it has in the past. Applications can still be upgraded to utilize some new technologies that are currently available with the MPE/iX operating system without a lot of expense. Support is available from HP for some of the hardware and software releases through December 31, 2006. Third party support is readily available, also. Long-term, third party software product support is advertised by vendors, but you must continue to maintain contact with them. This is a low cost, but increasingly higher risk, option.

2. Rehost - Convert the applications to run on another hardware platform under a new operating system. The existing program logic that you spent a lot of time and money to develop is retained using the original programming development language. All command files and job streams must be converted to the new environment and the data files are converted to a new database format. Your users and support staff will have a low retraining effort and your migration costs won’t be too large.

3. Replace - New applications can be purchased from third party developers. These purchased applications can come from a variety of companies. The only conversion that has to be done is corporate data. The search process to find the new applications can be very time consuming and frustrating. The new applications may not do business the way your company has done in the past so the company has to change or some customization has to be done. This can be disruptive and costly. You will be dealing with companies you don’t have a past history with in the areas of support and stability. Your users and support staff will have a high retraining cost along with your migration expenses.

4. Rewrite - Develop new applications to replace the current ones. You can explore new technologies that are available in the market place. This gives you a lot of flexibility to redesign the existing systems. But the downside is a large labor cost and a hope that the technology direction you have chosen is correct long term. Your users and support staff will have a high retraining effort. This is probably the most expensive and disruptive choice available.

5. Abandon – Any obsolete systems can be shut down. The reasons are some systems are not needed because of the changes in corporate requirements, a business unit is going away, or applications are being consolidated. Very little costs are associated with this choice except for data consolidation or archiving.

6. Outsourcing – Applications, staff, and systems management can be outsourced to a third party covering all the existing applications. This is a homesteading option that puts the management responsibility on the third party. Proper oversight of the operations by the company is vital.

7. Combination – Several of the above choices can be combined in the final solution to provide the best of each that meets the company goals and objectives.

A Critical Notebook

A Systems Manager Notebook is vital to the proper management of any HP 3000 site and consists of many parts. Every site should have one because it contains critical hardcopy information to back up the information contained on the system. It is part of the Disaster Recovery Plan that should be in place and is used to manually recreate your environment. You can’t have too much information in it. The pages in the Gold Book supplied by HP with each system should be used to record ongoing details about each system. All parts of the notebook have to be kept current at all times. This information will be valuable when migrations are planned in the future.

Your Systems Manager Notebook should contain the following:

1. Hardware model and serial numbers

2. License agreements for all software and hardware

3. A copy of all current maintenance agreements

4. Equipment warranty information

5. Complete applications documentation of program logic, data file layouts, and system interaction

6. Operator run books and other documentation

7. Complete listing from SYSINFO.PRVXL.TELESUP for system configuration

8. SYSGEN Listing of paths, devices, logging, and miscellaneous sections for system configuration, system logging events, and miscellaneous settings

9. Listing of HPSWINFO.PUB.SYS for operating system release, system software release, and patch history

10. Listing from DSTAT ALL for system volume set configuration

11. Listing of NPCONFIG.PUB.SYS for networked printer configuration

12. Listing of NMMGR.PUB.SYS files for DTC and network interface configuration

13. Listings of various NET.SYS files (SERVICES, PROTOCOL, HOSTS, INETDCNF, and RESLVCNF) for ARPA services and network configuration

14. Listing from SIU, a systems inventory utility from the HP JAZZ web site for the HP installed software subsystems

15. Listing from PSSWINVP.PRED.SYS for the HP installed software subsystems

16. Listing of REPORT @.@ for the accounting system configuration

17. From BULDACCT.PUB.SYS, a listing of BULDJOB1 for MPE commands to rebuild the accounting system structure and settings and a listing of BULDJOB2 for the MPE commands to rebuild the COMMAND.PUB.SYS file settings. Protect the access to these files as they contain passwords!

18. Backup $STDLIST from each full backup which could be kept on tape to look up files that were backed up

19. Third party software installation codes in case the system processor card has to be replaced or upgraded

20. HP and third party vendor support phone numbers

21. Hardware and software historical records

22. Preventative maintenance schedules and instructions

23. Terminal and PC configurations either printed for terminals and on disk for the PCs

24. Operating System and patch release history recorded in the Gold Book

25. Listing of SHOWVAR HP@ to get system serial number, user limit, and other system settings

You should also have this additional documentation and the following manuals:

1. MPE/iX Software Maintenance Manual

2. Patch/iX and Stage/iX documentation

3. MPE/iX release Communicators

4. MPE/iX 5.5 Documentation CD that has some obsolete manuals not available anywhere else

5. Latest MPE/iX Documentation CDs for all current manuals

You will find these Web-based and online resources helpful, too:

1. HP’s Web site - www.hp.com

2. HP manuals - docs.hp.com

3. The 3000 Newswire for the best 3000 news and transition information - www.3000newswire.com

4. 3000-L discussion list for technical help – send a message to listserv@raven.utc.edu to subscribe

5. HP Jazz site for utility MPE/iX programs and job streams - jazz.external.hp.com

6. Interex HP users group organization for HP news and conference information - www.interex.org

7. OpenMPE organization site for the latest news on the OpenMPE movement - www.openmpe.org

Most third party vendors have their own sites, too.

Support In the Future

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