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May 2005
Number 110 (Update of Volume 10, Issue 8)

Denial of Service flaw hits HP alternatives to 3000

HP floated a Security Bulletin that affects the most recent generation of HP-UX releases, a notice that warns of TCP/IP packets causing a Denial of Service on HP-UX servers running release 11.0 or later. HP’s report said that “Receiving a certain packet on any open TCP/IP connection can result in a Denial of Service (DoS) condition which can only be corrected by a reboot of the affected system. Until patches are available to resolve the issue, the Denial of Service (DoS) can be avoided by setting the ip_pmtu_strategy parameter to either 0 or 3.”

HP has issued Denial of Service security bulletins regularly for its Unix-based systems. Details on the SSRT5954 rev.1 security breach — which didn’t yet have a patch as of May 27 — are on the HP IT Response Center Web site:


3000’s LargeFile Datasets remain without an HP fix

The corruption bug which keeps HP 3000 users from deploying LargeFile Datasets (LFDS) remains without a fix this month, the 12th in a row with no repair for the TurboIMAGE feature. LFDS was supposed to replace Jumbo datasets as a means to store data in chunks greater than 4GB, but the flaw we reported in our March NewsWire doesn’t have a fix yet.

After it created a utility to translate the Jumbo datasets into LFDS, Adager’s customers who did test conversions for performance discovered the data corruption problem. The vendor documented the problem and reported it to HP’s database labs. Adager has been warning customers to stay away from the LargeFiles capability until HP finishes a fix.

“Our recommendation is the same as HP’s” said Adager’s CEO Rene Woc. “TurboIMAGE LFDS should not be used until a fix is generated.”

Woc explained that Adager’s complimentary utility converts databases using jumbo datasets to using LFDS. Any database using LFDS is exposed to corruption.

“However, some of our users have converted test databases to benchmark their performance,” Woc added, “even though no one is going to use it in production until a fix is developed, tested and released.” Reduced database performance is a potential issue when using LFDS, according to HP’s Kevin Cooper, who’s become the vendor’s authority on benchmarking 3000s.

Even when HP completes its fix for LFDS, getting testers for the patch could be very difficult in these days of locked-down 3000 installations. Users considering LFDS can submit an explicit request for the fix to the HP Response Center if they are under HP support, or to HP Response Center engineer Cathlene McRae (cathlene.mcrae@hp.com) or to Adager Support (support@adager.com) if they are not under HP support. HP needs help to identify the early adopters and possible beta testers.

Volokh empire adds another heir

Eugene Volokh, the co-founder of HP 3000utility software vendor VEsoft, added another member to his family with the birth of his son Samuel. Volokh, who has added the career of constitutional law professor to his roots programming for HP 3000s, now has two sons by his wife Leslie Periera. Proud grandpa Vladimir, who heads up the VEsoft empire, reports that Benjamin was born at 10.5 pounds, bigger than Eugene’s 9-pound birth weight.

While Eugene’s technical legend remains fixed in the minds of HP 3000 customers who cut their teeth during the 1980s — the son of Russian immigrant Vladimir, he worked at HP as a teenager and created MPEX with his father before graduating high school — his later life illustrates even broader interests. His writings on law and society are profound; his Volokh Conspiracy blog (http://volokh.org) bristles with a wide scope of commentary. Now the father of two, Eugene might have even more drive to accomplish one of his more nascent desires: to write children’s fiction. In an interview with blogger Norman Geras last fall while Samuel was already on the way, Eugene admitted a wish to entertain:

Q. What talent would you most like to have?

A. Being able to write memorable and entertaining fiction, especially children’s fiction.

Ecometry to serve faux fur supplier

Ecometry Corp., which still counts more than two thirds of its installed base among HP 3000 platforms, has made a sale of a multi-channel retail solution to Fabulous-Furs, a family owned and operated retailer that sells a “luxurious alternative to animal furs.” Fabulous-Furs selected the Ecometry Commerce Suite to power its multi-channel operations, a choice that skipped over HP’s Unix platform.

As we reported in our January and March issues, Ecometry recently extended the support life of its MPE/iX version of the application and then purchased Blue Martini Software in a $45 million transaction. The company is working with Paymentech to add PayPal payment support for the MPE/iX release of Ecometry.

Donna Salyers, President and founder of Fabulous-Furs, create her company over a decade ago after she was on her way to purchase a mink coat and overheard a sordid description of the animals being skinned for their pelts. The company’s faux fur coats, throws, pillows and other apparel have become a alternative choice for animal lovers worldwide and have been featured in movies and on several TV shows. Fabulous-Furs has been profiled in People magazine, The Wall Street Journal and on CNN.

The retailer chose Windows to power its Ecometry platform, following a consistent pattern for the ISV’s non-3000 sales. Fabulous-Furs sells retail, over its Web site and by catalog, with 90 percent of its business going to consumers. The company saw the need to integrate all of its channels and has installed Ecometry on Windows 2003 with a SQL Server database.

Ecometry reported that the first reason for winning the sale was taking an interest in the customer. “Right from the start we were impressed with the quick response from Ecometry,” said Fabulous-Furs CEO Guy Van Rooyen. “Other vendors just didn’t call back.” The company outgrew its old system in 18 months when it had to add a significant number of employees. He noted, “Ecometry, like us, is performance-driven and focused on results.”

Before implementing Ecometry, Van Rooyen said the company’s Web site was separate from its other sales. “With Ecometry, customers will benefit from the integration of all marketing channels. We are able to provide the same excellent customer service experience, no matter how they buy.”

Along with Ecometry Commerce Suite with Point of Sale (POS), Fabulous-Furs has implemented On-line Credit Card Authorization and optional Ecometry modules; Assembly, Predictive Response and IFM (Inventory Forecast Management).

HP invites criticism

Every year HP asks for harsh words from its customers and gets them, under the auspices of the HP-specific user group Interex. The tradition — which yields in a summarized report at the Interex user conference — has survived for another year, and the 2005 Worldwide Survey of HP Customers “sponsored by HP’s User Communities” is now live at www.hpcustomersurvey.org

Interex representatives say the survey enables HP customers to stand together and advocate to HP on important technology topics. Customers who participate to have your voice heard are eligible for a drawing to win $3,500 in cash prizes, an iPod, two LCD monitors and 20 USB drives.

HP 3000 customers — who might feel the vendor’s attention wander from them as HP support for the 3000 wanes next year — often participate. But some want to see more information than the summarized results. “I’ve filled those surveys out for years,” said Chris Bartram, a 3000 ISV and consultant at the US Mint. “I submitted more than I can remember, and I’ve never seen real ‘results’ from them.”

HP’s 3000 engineers assured customers reading the 3000 newsgroup the raw data finds its way to labs and managers. “I, too filled those surveys out for years back when I was a customer,” said Mark Bixby, “and I too wondered where the results went. Since joining HP, I now know where the results go. The results DO trickle down to the vCSY rank and file, and are very informative.”

While Bixby noted that he wasn’t speaking for HP, he added that “I’m probably not going too far out on a limb to say that we really appreciate the effort that customers spend on filling out these surveys. Tell it like it is and keep ‘em coming.”

A more detailed summary that covers customer comments got another vote from HP engineer and OpenMPE liaison Jeff Vance. “The survey results, good and poor, are taken seriously at HP” he said. “Maybe a summary should be made available.”

Windows drives HP's gains on IBM in server market

When vendors like HP sell servers today, it means placing an Intel or AMD-based processor 90 percent of the time. The strategy is putting more HP-labelled systems into service, but the sales trends are cutting into the market share of Unix-based servers. Even though HP is pushing its Itanium systems for both Unix and Windows, it improved its share of the server market — at the expense of IBM and Sun Microsystems — by selling far more Windows-driven systems.

While HP grappled with flat sales of its non-Windows-based solutions — the latest quarterly figures showed only a 2 percent year over year growth in revenue for Business Critical systems — Gartner figures showed overall growth slowed in the first quarter of 2005. HP said that its non-Unix systems revenues — it calls the segment Industry Standard Servers — grew 12 percent, compared to HP-UX revenue growth of 9 percent.

Gartner reported that the overall server market grew only 4.1 percent compared with the year-earlier quarter. That’s slower growth than every quarter since 2003’s Q2.

Though the BCS sales looked nearly flat at HP, the company managed to carve out market share at IBM’s expense. The Gartner estimates continued to place IBM at the top of the heap with 29.8 percent of the market. But Big Blue saw its server revenue grow only 1.1 percent, outpaced by No. 2 HP with 13.1 percent growth and a 28.1 percent market share. Dell’s server revenues grew 13 percent by the Gartner estimates, accounting for 10.8 percent of the segment’s dollars.

Sun fell behind Dell in Gartner’s estimates of server market share during the quarter. Sun’s server revenue — still built largely around Unix-based Solaris platforms — dropped 4.2 percent, and its market share dipped to 9.5 percent, Gartner said.

Unix-based solution tracks 3000 systems

OpenMPE director Donna Garverick reports that she’s been using Vantage Console Manager from ASP Technologies (www.asptech.com) to aid in network management of HP 3000s. The software’s developers have HP 3000 background, she added in a report on the 3000 newsgroup.

“We’ve tapped into the console data stream from a couple of our boxes and route/replicate the console traffic to a HP-UX system running Vantage,” she said. “Vantage has been ‘trained’ to watch for ‘events’ — different messages flying across the console — and respond however we need.”

“Vantage is very well-written and I’m quite impressed,” Garverick added. Every time I’ve asked ‘Can it do this?’ Allen (the guy that writes the code) says ‘It sure can!’ — including being able to ‘be on the console’ from your Unix system. That kinda beats having to drive in at 2 AM.”

“Allen (the ‘A’ in ASP) and Phil (the ‘P’ and the company president) are both former HP’ers and have MPE backgrounds. So you can say showjob to them, and they’ll know what you mean.”

Chris Bartram, Webmaster for HP 3000 site 3kassociates.com and a consultant to the US Mint, said “I’ve used Vantage here for about four years now. It’s been a lifesaver for remote console access — especially since my 3000s here are in another building. Our installation is a bit dated now (long ago off support, like most our other 3000 stuff at the Mint). It still helps me baby-sit the 3000s on the rare occasions I need to.”

HP’s Hurd looks around, walks around businesses

During the first two months of his tenure as HP’s new CEO, Mark Hurd listed priorities that included improvements to the company’s enterprise storage and servers business. The chief executive, who took his job on April 1 after HP ousted Carly Fiorina in February, said his management style has more in common with the classic Hewlett-Packard model of “management by walking around.”

Even if HP doesn’t return to its 3000 business under Hurd’s expected reorganization of the company — a very long shot, according to HP’s partners still working in the MPE community — Hurd has already shown a profile more in tune with HP’s legacy than the one his predecessor advocated.

When The Wall Street Journal asked Hurd if he’d shed any more HP businesses, he said he needed to get closer to the businesses before any such changes would be made.

“Everybody wants me to talk about shutting this business down or spinning this business off,” he said. “But I want to just start by learning a lot about this company. You’ve heard the term ‘management by walking around.’ I like to move through multiple levels of the company and I like my management to do that.”

The WSJ reporter asked Hurd if he’d read “The HP Way,” Dave Packard’s book on HP’s founding principles. The new CEO pulled a copy out of his desk and said on April 3 he was halfway through the book.

He also looked unlikely to go outside the company for executive management talent. HP employs nearly 150,000, he said in a WSJ interview, and “I’m convinced by the sheer math and by the people I’ve met so far that there’s great talent in this company.”


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