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System Management Software (SMS)
Version C.02.01

Outer Banks Solutions, Inc.
1609 Maybrook Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610

Phone: 800.558.5336
Fax: 919.231.7077
E-mail: solutions@obsmail.com
Web: www.outerbankssolutions.com

SMS automatically monitors many of the critical resources, events and limits that can impact on system health and performance. It also takes and keeps snapshots of system activity that can be viewed at a later date, either in detail or averaged by hour or day. Further, SMS tracks job and session logons and allows specific console commands to users at logon.

SMS runs on release 5.5, 6.0 and 6.5 of MPE/iX. Pricing for SMS is tier based and ranges from $1,440 for a 928-class machine to $3,840 for a 99x-class machine. Annual support is priced at 20 percent of the then-current selling price. A fully functioning 30-day demo is available free on request.



November 2000

Do you know what your system is doing?

SMS is a tool for the serious HP 3000 System Manager

Review by John Burke

We system managers are always looking for additional tools to help us manage our systems. Enter System Management Software (SMS) from Outer Banks Solutions (OBS) of Raleigh, North Carolina. SMS provides real-time monitoring of critical system resources, historical tracking of usage, and control over the allocation of certain resources to users.

SMS is a little difficult to characterize simply. On the one hand, it is a monitor of system resource usage. It automatically monitors many of the critical resources, events and limits that can have the greatest impact on system health and performance. It also takes and keeps snapshots of system activity that can be viewed at a later date, either in detail or averaged by hour or day. Finally, it monitors network connections. Anything with an IP address can have its connectivity to the system running SMS monitored at user-configurable intervals with alerts issued if a device drops off the network.

On the other hand, SMS participates in overall security management. It historically tracks job and session logons, “allows” specific console commands to users at logon, can require a device password to access specific logon devices, and can restrict logon access to specific accounts for jobs and/or sessions during specified times.

SMS is a relative newcomer to the world of commercially available tools. OBS has, however, been developing SMS and using SMS with clients of all sizes for more than five years, so SMS is battle-tested. Outer Banks Solutions was formed by HP 3000 system and datacenter Management experts to provide a full range of support services, from training to system management consulting to software. OBS was selected by Interex to develop and present the highly successful MPE/iX boot camp at HP World ’99. And OBS has partnered with a number of well-known software providers (Adager, Minisoft, Quest, Robelle, Tidal and SolutionSoft, for example) to offer a complete range of products and services.


OBS follows the by-now-familiar installation routine with SMS: restore an install job from tape, modify it as necessary, remount the tape, stream the job and in a few minutes you are done. Many system managers, including myself, like to install third-party software on something other than the system volume set. OBS makes this very easy to do with SMS. All you need to do is make a few simple modifications to the install job and SMS will install to any volume set you desire. OBS earns kudos for automatically purging the install jobs upon successful completion. At this point you need to validate SMS by running the SMSUTIL program from MANAGER.SMS and adding the SMSLOGON.PUB.SMS command file to your system-wide logon UDC. The default configuration is adequate to get you going. Once you’ve gained some familiarity with the product, the SMSUTIL program can be used to customize the configuration and set up nodes to monitor, commands to allow, and devices to secure.


SMS is delivered with a 145-page manual in a loose-leaf binder. It is almost too detailed. On first reading, it can be a little confusing. Not to worry though, your best bet is just to install SMS and fire off the background job, taking the default configuration. You can then use the manual as a reference to fine-tune the configuration to meet your system monitoring needs. Most of the manual entries are available online through the context sensitive HELP function key. SMS also comes with a one page, heavy paper “cheat sheet” that will get you up and running in no time.

A nice touch: In addition to the paper manual, SMS is delivered with an electronic version of the manual in PDF format. This is particularly useful when using the manual for reference — you can use the Adobe Acrobat Reader’s Find function to search for the information you need. While performing the TestDrive, I kept a copy of the manual open in one window, while configuring the product and monitoring my systems in other windows. Having the manual in electronic form also allows you to make it available on your intranet. More vendors should follow the lead of Outer Banks Solutions.


SMS is designed to operate in a “Run-and-Forget” environment once you have decided upon appropriate configuration values. The defaults represent a good starting point, but to get full value out of the product, you will want to take the time up front to configure SMS for your systems.

A partial listing of features follows.

SMS monitors and reports on the following critical resources and events:

• number of sessions, number of jobs active, deferred, suspended and waiting;

• number of spool files ready, active and open;

• disk space utilization by system and by disk drive;

• disk space utilization by spool files and log files; and

• network traffic and errors by network links.

SMS monitors and alerts the console on the following:

• any outstanding REPLYS;

• any unusual disk conditions such as disabled mirrored pairs;

• when any configured network device is not reachable;

• when the number of sessions or jobs are approaching their limits;

• when the network server processes are approaching their limits;

• when the system or a disk’s free space falls below a configured limit; and

• when the number of spool files or spool file sectors reach their configured limit.

SMS maintains statistical information such as:

• weekly and ongoing maximums for number of sessions and jobs, number of spool files and maximum disk space allocated to spool files;

• session and job logon information that includes time, date and logon device number; and

• availability information on monitored network nodes.

The above can be invaluable in both troubleshooting problems after the fact and in capacity and configuration planning for the future.

SMS can also be used to:

• automatically ALLOW specific console commands to jobs or sessions at logon time or by request. (This is particularly neat since one of long-time complaint from many of us is the absence of a “persistent” ALLOW command; i.e. any ALLOW only stays active for the duration of the job or session. This feature of SMS gives the System Manager the equivalent of a persistent ALLOW command because it effectively “survives” a logoff/logon cycle.);

• require a device password to access specific logon devices; and

• restrict logon access to specific accounts for jobs and/or sessions during specified times.

One enhancement to SMS I would personally like to see would be an option to send e-mail alerts, since on most large systems, sending alerts to the console is an exercise in futility. Anything sent to my production system’s console is probably visible for less than 30 seconds most days. Add to this that we mostly operate a “lights out” data center and you can see why I’d like e-mail alerts. Steve Cole of OBS told me they would definitely look into providing this capability in a future release.

How does it work?

The principle components of SMS are the background collector job (SMSADMIN), the program run at logon for every job and session (LOGMON), the real-time reporting monitors (the SMS and NCM programs) and the configuration and report program (SMSUTIL). As a practical matter, you can get to everything you need, including SMSUTIL and NCM, from SMS.PUB.SMS. SMS, the program, requires SM or OP capability. NCM additionally requires NA capability. SMSUTIL requires SM capability to modify configuration values, but only OP capability for reporting. The collector job takes a snapshot of resource usage on a configurable cycle (the default is once every 5 minutes).

The SMS online monitor also operates on a configurable cycle, the default being once every 30 seconds. OBS has, furthermore, conveniently provided hooks from the SMS program to Glance/iX (HP) and SOS (Lund Performance Solutions), in case you have either or both products.

SMS employs numerous log and work files to record and report information collected from the system. An initial concern of mine was disk space usage. However, SMS log files are all circular files, thus minimizing disk space requirements while keeping the most recent data available for evaluation and review. I was also a little concerned about the overhead of both the constantly running background monitor and of the LOGMON program that is executed every time a job or session logs on. Testing on both a test system and a production system (a Series 959/400 with up to 650 concurrent sessions and heavy and frequent batch) confirmed that SMS causes very little overhead. It had no noticeable impact on my production system and used less than 60,000 sectors of disk space for data collection during my testing period.

SMS utilizes standard MPE interfaces and does not use PRIVMODE to collect or report any information. PRIVMODE is used during the background monitor initiation, but not during normal operation.


SMS is one of those products where a picture is truly worth a thousand words. Figure 1 shows a screen shot from the SMS online monitor program of my production 959/400. I specifically configured certain monitor limits and network nodes to generate alerts. Note the alerts on number of spool files, total free space and the bogus network node BOGUS. (We run a batch job launcher/control program, which explains why the number of executing jobs exceeds the job limit.) Figure 2 is the Node Availability Report (note again the non-existent node BOGUS). Figure 3 is a small part of the Logon User/Account Report. Figure 4 shows the average value of various system parameters on an hourly basis.


Do you find yourself “in the dark” at times on what is happening with your systems? Are you tired of reacting to problems after they have become critical and are looking to be more proactive in your system management? Do you want to exercise more control over the specific use of system resources? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions then you should take a look at SMS. In my brief exposure to the product, I found it quite powerful, yet easy to use and understand.

John Burke is the editor of the NewsWire’s HiddenValue and net.digest columns and has more than 20 years’ experience managing HP 3000s.



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