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Command Center 2000 version 2.0

Bradmark Inc.
4265 San Felipe, Suite 800
Houston, Texas 77027-2913
Phone 800.621.2808
Fax 713.621.1639
e-mail: sales@mail.bradmark.com
Web: www.bradmark.com

Command Center 2000 includes all the server and client software necessary to run the product. This includes files that must be restored onto the HP 3000, and two server processes that must be running as jobs at all times to allow the client software to run. The client software will run on any 32 bit version of Windows.

Command Center 2000 runs on all HP 3000 Series 900s, MPE/iX 4.0 or later. The WinMPE software is user-based ranging from $399 to $499 depending on the number of users, with a 2-user minimum. Command Center is $2,500 per server, regardless of client connections. Discounting is available on multiple CPUs, for government agencies and schools. Support is 20 percent of the purchase price per year and includes phone-in and electronic support and new releases of the software. All prices are in US dollars.



February 2000

A Commanding View for Your HP 3000

Command Center 2000 combines tactical, strategic management

Review by Shawn Gordon

Bradmark is offering a new kind of datacenter management tool in its Command Center product, one designed to help administer 3000s from either a tactical or a strategic level. It’s important to note that this product really consists of two products: one is the Command Center, the other is WinMPE. They are actually priced separately, and can be purchased and used separately — but they work so well together, and make sense together, that I am going to review them together.

I see the Command Center as a system manager/operations staff tool, and WinMPE more geared to an individual HP 3000 system manager type of user.

How does it work?

The software requires that there be a server job for each product, so if you are using both, then you will need two server jobs running. The Command Center software will spawn WinMPE if requested, but the reverse does not appear to be true. The two products work in different directions. In other words, under WinMPE you will essentially get a GUI on top of standard MPE functions such as managing jobs, spoolfiles, and MPE accounting structure. You are interacting with the server and machine. See Figure 1 for an example.

Under Command Center, you essentially define your environment, along with various thresholds and alarms. You can also have a window running that collects the system console. If an event takes place that sets off an alarm, you are notified. In this scenario you have taken a more passive role, waiting for the software to tell you about problems it is having. See Figure 2 for an example.


There is a very nifty ability to use VBScript/Javascript for customizing commands, so you can really customize the environment to do whatever it is you want.

While you can do machine-to-machine file transfers in WinMPE by simply dragging the files, this feature is only supported via DSLINE — so if you don’t have the ability to DSCOPY between your 3000s, then you won’t be able to use it. Adding FTP as an option would be a nice touch.

One of the really neat features of the console logging in Command Center is that it picks up all the commands, not just things that display on the console. So if you have a background process that handles virtual job queues, for example, you will see all the manipulation of the JOBFENCE, LIMIT, and job INPRI. There is filtering available, so you can distill it down to what you really need. This reminded me of the TelaConsole product from Telamon.

WinMPE gives you a graphical interface to pretty much all your system manager commands such as PURGE and NEW, executed on objects such as Files, Users, Groups and Accounts. You get full access to the HFS to manage that as well. One interesting surprise I had while testing WinMPE was finding a ton of files in our /tmp directory that were chewing up the system volume set. We had been trying to get space on the volume set for some time, but just couldn’t find the files.

You can also configure external programs to interface with the environment. So if you want to be able to logon to the HP from Command Center, you can configure MiniSoft/92 or Reflection, and when you select the option to logon, the program will be spawned for you. Other hooks are for editing files, to use the product’s built-in editor or Robelle’s Qedit for Windows, or perhaps other editors. This is a pretty neat feature that makes the product that much more usable.

Installation and Documentation

This is about the only area where Command Center falls down. It’s packaged up nicely on a CD which contains all the client and server software, and for the most part it installs easily. However, there are two major problems. The software installed on the server has a number of bugs and typos in it, so the permissions on the groups aren’t right. That meant the server failed on me because of missing files and directories. It seems that Bradmark recently changed their naming convention, and I’d say that more testing would have been appropriate before shipping.

The other problem is that there is absolutely no printed documentation included, short of the install instructions. There is nothing to tell you how to start or stop the servers, or where to get started with the client software. With that said, there is a movie on the CD that does a 20-minute walk-through of the products, and this was a good place to get a feel for it all.
You can run certain chapters of the movie, so you don’t have to sit through it all at each viewing. All the documentation is included on the CD, but a short manual with the basics of how to start, stop, and get started would go a long way toward getting people to begin using the software. I spoke to Bradmark about it, and they seemed keen on the idea.
On the upside, the installation process does try to be as complete as possible. To upload the server software, you can choose between WRQ, MiniSoft and FTP as the file transfer agents. This should cover pretty much every 3000 shop out there.

The TestDrive

There were some challenges getting started, but once I got the software running, it was pretty easy to use. Command Center is a bit more confusing, and I didn’t really use it for anything more than showing console messages, as I found WinMPE was more interesting. My main complaint is that the software doesn’t really follow MS Windows standards on dialog boxes. For example, if you go to delete a list of files, instead of saying “Okay to delete? Yes/No”, it says “You are about to delete one or more items. Abort operation? Yes/No.” So normally a default key press would respond YES to confirm the operation, but here you are responding YES to terminate the operation — and it is the default button. This type of syntax is consistent throughout the product and takes some getting used to.

There really does appear to be a memory leak in WinMPE. I was testing on a lightly configured machine with 32Mb of RAM, and I was always running out of memory, even with no other applications running. There also appears to be a conflict with Netscape Navigator and/or Lotus Notes, as the product would crash pretty consistently when running with one of these applications.


The only real comparison would be to GUI3000 from OmniSolutions. Originally these two products were almost identical, but they have since gone down different paths. They both still handle system management functions, but that is about where the similarities end. I would say that GUI3000 performs much better than Command Center, but Command Center looks better (other than the non-standard dialog boxes).


I really like Command Center 2000. The Command Center portion, if set up correctly, is a great tool to give those operators and system managers who are managing multiple machines. Instead of having to constantly hunt around looking for any problems, the information is pushed to them instead. I found WinMPE to be a very handy tool for managing a system, especially for the system manager. Being able to have a visual interface to functions such as purging, copying, and creating various types of objects is very handy. These are very useful and powerful tools.

With that said, the release that I got was very bug-ridden. Many functions didn’t work, and whenever a failure occurred, the application appeared to leak memory all over the place, causing other applications to fail, until I killed the WinMPE process. The version that I saw was more alpha release quality, not even beta, because these things were failing immediately without my doing any work to make them fail.

I don’t want to come down too hard on Command Center, because I think this will be a terrific product once it’s fully tested and finished. But it just wasn’t finished at the moment I test-drove it. Hopefully, it will be soon.

Shawn Gordon, whose S.M. Gordon & Associates firm supplies HP 3000 utilities, has worked with 3000s since 1983.



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