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November 2004

Query makes jump to HP’s Unix

Marxmeier ports popular IMAGE database tool for use on HP-UX

Migration can be hard work, especially for the customer who has relied on the HP 3000’s unique tools. The most labor-intensive steps of a migration often involve 3000 services that don’t exist on target platforms, such as built-in batch job control. But a company that offers a work-alike replacement for IMAGE has now ported one of the more popular 3000 database tools, Query, for use on HP-UX systems.

The Query porting project took place at Marxmeier Software, which sells its Eloquence database for HP-UX, Windows and Linux. Query is no powerhouse utility for 3000 shops, but the fact that it was included free with every HP 3000 for more than 20 years has made the simple tool a staple of managing 3000 databases.

System managers often write scripts to execute Query’s operations, integrating the tool with other batch processes. These scripts had to be rewritten for other tools up to now, because Query didn’t run on non-3000 platforms. The Eloquence QUERY3K utility, included with Eloquence’s latest version, will let most HP 3000 Query scripts run on HP 9000s without rewriting.

“If you move the customer from the HP 3000 to Unix, you have to provide equivalent functionality for the whole environment, not just the application,” said Marxmeier’s founder Michael Marxmeier. “Customers can have a large number of custom-written query scripts, reports that each customer has written.”

Marxmeier said that porting Query to HP-UX — a utility called QUERY3K that requires Eloquence in order to answer the queries — was one of the top requests from various ISVs that use Eloquence to migrate their application.

HP 3000 sites use a wide array of Query’s features, so porting the software to HP-UX looked like the best solution to meet the ISVs’ needs.

“You could re-engineer Query scripts in a different tool, but this may end up as a time consuming and potentially expensive endeavor,” Marxmeier said. The company is bundling QUERY3K with its TurboIMAGE compatibility option in subsequent releases. The software is also available as a download for customers using Eloquence version B.07.00.

The utility has its limitations. Any MPE commands called from Query scripts need to be replaced with equivalent Unix commands. It performs a partial evaluation of the :FILE command and supports a limited equivalent of an MPE file equation.

Marxmeier said he felt the ported version had to be low-cost and compatible to be useful. “Migration customers are often price-sensitive, and there are more important tasks to take care of besides Query reports,” he said.

Marxmeier was considering a price of $300 for QUERY3K to help offset migration’s costs. But the software is currently free to Eloquence customers on a current support contract. The price-sensitivity “is a concern for ISVs who are worried about losing customers to competition due to migration costs.”

Two other solutions exist for re-engineering Query reports, including the Ask Plus software from Vitalsoft and Query/3k From Cheops Technologies. Ask Plus has an option to convert Query reports to the AskPlus report format (one that is somewhat similar to Query), and Ask Plus adds reporting power which Query doesn’t have.

For the moment the Marxmeier utility only works with Eloquence, but future versions could extend its scope. “We are very open to talking to people using other databases and vendors [of migration tools] that might be interested provide a customized version of QUERY3K on HP platforms” Marxmeier said.

Query’s HP 3000 source code, where Marxmeier Software began its project, has been available to the public from HP through the Interex user group. The new version of Query currently runs on PA-RISC HP-UX systems, as well as Itanium-based HP-UX servers in PA-RISC compatibility mode. HP-UX version 11.11 is required; porting to other HP platforms — native Itanium, Windows and Linux — is in progress.


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