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October 2002

Get the most out of your Robelle Tools

Robelle reports from HP World

Direct from the show floor and the sessions:

Acucorp stopped by our booth to let us know that their HP 3000 Cobol compiler version 5.22 and higher now reads Qedit format files. You can get more information about their products from www.acucorp.com

The SIG-IMAGE meeting was well attended and SIG-IMAGE will continue to exist. HP’s Tien-You Chen gave an overview of new features in the latest version of TurboIMAGE, including the second round of scalability enhancements, known as the Extended HighWater Mark enhancement.

Orly Larson, famous MPE booster, has retired from HP after 30 years, but he was at the show greeting old friends.

Getting Started With Eloquence

One of the most interesting duo talks at HP World this year was by Tien-You Chen and Michael Marxmeier. Tien-You has been the Database Architect at CSY for years and is sorry to see TurboIMAGE retired, but he is “happy to tell you we have found a perfect replacement.”

Michael Marxmeier of Marxmeier Software AG and the author of Eloquence explained that Eloquence was first released in 1989 as a solution to move the HP 250/260 to HP-UX and was intended to be a 2-3 year solution. It now has 2,500-plus installations worldwide and is used by more than 60 VARs/ISVs in a wide range of applications.

Eloquence can be deployed in configurations as small as a single-user laptop, and scales up to 250-plus concurrent users with a 10-plus Gb database. [Ed. Note: Eloquence creator Michael Marxmeier notes the technical limitation is 1,000 users, and the company doesn’t recommend installations above 500 users with the forthcoming A.07.00 release.] Eloquence supports up to 32 Terabytes on Windows and currently supports up to 500Gb on Linux and HP-UX, limits which will be increased in the future.

Eloquence will have the client side interface available on MPE. Michael portrayed this as useful for testing: you can test your existing MPE programs on the new Eloquence HP-UX database without moving the programs to HP-UX. But he admitted that it could also be used to allow Suprtool to read an IMAGE database and PUT directly into an Eloquence database on another server.

You can try out Eloquence as a two-user version with a database of up to 50 Mb for free. It is available from www.hp-eloquence.com. Marxmeier also has plans to port Eloquence to Itanium in 2003.

After Marxmeier spoke, HP’s Chen gave an intrinsic-by-intrinsic breakdown and comparison of Image and Eloquence. Only DBCONTROL intrinsics are not supported and DBBEGIN and DBEND are only partially supported. We only know of one schema control statement that is not supported; it is called “oddpallowed,” which allows you to have odd sized packed fields, but frankly we had forgotten that this option even existed. All other DB calls are available with some additional DBINFO modes.

It was interesting to have Chen give this portion of the talk, since he was an independent source to review how compatible Eloquence and IMAGE are. It is important to note that although all the DB calls are compatible from an application perspective, Eloquence is certainly a different type of database under the hood.

Eloquence is a multi-threaded architecture database that just so happens to allow you to use IMAGE intrinsics in the same manner as you do on the HP 3000.

Eloquence uses volume data files and consists of data volume files and transaction volume files. You only need to create the primary data volume file and the transaction volume file. A maximum of 255 volume files is supported in a server environment. After the initial creation of these volume files very little maintenance needs to occur, other than bringing up and down the server.

All in all, Eloquence is looking to be an excellent target for your corporate data from you HP 3000 IMAGE databases. After converting Suprtool to work with Eloquence, Bob Green says: “I was so impressed with Eloquence that I decided to be a reseller. Check out eloquence3000.com and e-mail me when you are ready for a demo.”

The OpenMPE session

Guest Report by Gavin Scott, Allegro

At the two-hour OpenMPE session, HP’s Mike Paivinen and Kriss Rant provided details about the decisions HP has recently made that affect the topics of concern to the OpenMPE and MPE “homesteading” community.

Paivinen provided a detailed list of things that HP intends to do (though he was quick to point out that all of this is subject to change and nothing is guaranteed), and also some of the things that (at least at this point) HP has decided not to pursue.

The “intend to do” list included such things as actions to enable customer “self-support” after the 2006 end-of-support date; increasing the MPE hardware and software “flexibility” to allow HP 3000 systems to operate in the future using future peripherals; and enabling the development of MPE “platform emulator” programs that could allow the MPE/iX operating system itself to be run on non-3000 platforms.

In the “self support” category, HP intends to take steps to make sure that the current Internet resources for MPE support such as the ITRC databases, patches, and on-line documentation sites (including HP’s Jazz server) will continue even past 2006, either in HP’s hands or possibly in those of third parties. Much of the current ITRC content that requires a support contract for access will eventually be moved to the “free” area of the ITRC, allowing anyone to access it once HP stops offering support contracts.

HP also indicated that they would either release or remove the diagnostic passwords required to use the system hardware diagnostic programs. Ken Nutsford inquired about getting the passwords removed for 9x7 systems that have already gone off of support, and HP indicated they would investigate this.

Installation for add-on hardware will be available from HP on a T&M basis at least through 2006, and HP are investigating how to address issues such as replacement of a CPU board beyond 2006 when an HP CE might still be required to set the system hardware configuration (HPSUSAN etc.) correctly.

HP indicated that while new HP e3000 systems would not be sold after October of 2003, they would continue to sell add-on products (additional CPUs, memory, disks, etc.) for some period (perhaps 6-12 months depending on availability), and user-license upgrades and add-on software licenses would be available at least through 2006.

In the area of hardware and software flexibility, Paivinen said that HP would try to ensure that MPE could mount and use future ultra-large disk devices, though that utilization would probably be limited to around 300Gb per drive (as LDEV 1 used to be limited to 4Gb). This would allow MPE to use, say, 1-Terabye disk drives if they are the smallest size available in a few years. The 300Gb limit is a result of MPE limitations that would be difficult to increase without significant risk and expense.

In his talk earlier in the day, Dave Wilde indicated that HP would allow both the transfer of existing MPE/iX licenses to a non-HP e3000 system and the creation of new licenses for MPE/iX to run on such systems. This would pave the way for the creation of what Paivinen described as a platform emulator — a program that would run on a non-HP 3000 system and emulate the PA-RISC and HP 3000 architecture. This would allow the MPE/iX operating system to run in an environment that would simulate the hardware of a real HP e3000.

HP wants people to understand that they have no intention of developing an HP e3000 platform emulator themselves, but two third-party companies (Allegro and SRI) have expressed an interest in possibly developing such an emulator if HP would address the licensing issues.

Several details still have not been worked out (specifically the licensing costs and the distribution mechanism for newly licensed MPE/iX copies) — so more work remains to be done in this area before it’s likely that we’ll see an announcement by one or more of the companies who might produce an HP 3000 platform emulator. HP indicated that they would be working on resolving these remaining issues in the near future.

The list of things that HP currently does not intend to do includes:

• Allow people to convert 9000 systems into 3000 systems.

• Release an Open Source version of MPE.

• Make its SS_CONFIG program publicly available.

• Allow MPE/iX 7.0 or 7.5 to run on 9x7 systems.

• Increase performance levels of existing platforms (i.e. no intention to “un-cripple” the performance-reduced A- and N-Class MPE/iX servers). 

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