Transition advice shows both fast and
Partners tout 4GLs rapid shifts; re-factoring
sets stable groundwork
Third of three parts
Customers in the Houston Southwest Hilton seem to
appreciate the good news that Frank Calvillo offers at this stop of
HPs Transition Tour. 3000 sites using a 4GL, they learn, have a
path to migration that might be measured in months, rather than
Calvillo, Alliance Manager for Platinum migration
partner MBS, takes a post-lunch slot in the all-day Transition
briefings in Houston. The stop marks the one-year anniversary of
HPs announcement that its leaving the market by the end
of 2006. After hearing about the hundreds of thousands to millions of
dollars that most migrations will cost, the briefings restart with
news that goes down easier after lunch. Applications written in
Speedware, and to a lesser extent in PowerHouse, can get moved
quickly to HPs Unix platforms.
Speedware put things into their code that let
you migrate more easily, because they know youll have to do it
eventually, Calvillo says. Operating system switches
conditional statements to look at which platform is hosting the app
let Speedware programmers plan for a shift to HP-UX servers,
while the programs run on MPE/iX systems.
While moving 4GL applications to Unix or Windows is
straightforward, attendees hear that moving the databases is a bigger
challenge. Calvillo demonstrates Speedwares DBMotion database
migration tool for the crowd, whose numbers have dwindled from the
mornings nearly-full room. The database and the data are
where your problems are going to begin, he says, problems that
DBMotion and similar tools can solve.
Calvillo also points out differences in the Speedware
and Cognos approaches to migrations. Speedware has its own
professional services group to assist companies. Cognos guides its
customers to services partners such as MBS, a difference Calvillo
chalks up to the smaller size of the Cognos sales organization.
Cognos code, he adds, is not as portable as Speedware.
If you take your PowerHouse from MPE to Unix,
its not going to work very well, because its tuned for
IMAGE. This is treating Oracle like an IMAGE database, and
thats not going to work, Calvillo says.
Axiant, a Windows-based Cognos development tool,
generates PDL and SQL statements during a transition. Calvillo said
that generating SQL is essential to using Oracle to its greatest
If you dont take advantage of SQL inside
Oracle, you cant take advantage of Oracle, he says.
Even though it costs you 20 to 50 grand to go to Oracle,
its gonna stink for you if you dont use it right. A
database administrator, schooled in Oracle, is essential to getting
acceptable performance out of the HP-UX database.
Calvillo also had advice for HP 3000 managers hiring
an Oracle DBA for the first time. Ask them about data structure
differences [between IMAGE and Oracle], automatic masters, have them
draw the map for you. If they dont understand, you dont
want them working for you.
Cognos offers courses in Axiant and how to use it to
migrate to a relational database, Calvillo adds; he says the course
includes a copy of the Axiant software. Both MBS and MB Foster get a
mention as partners which are trained in the Cognos migration tools.
Calvillo also notes that Sector 7, a partner not participating in the
HP Platinum program, also has extensive experience with
The third most widely-installed rapid development
language for the HP 3000s also gets a brief mention. Transact
customers are advised that Speedware has a plan to convert Transact
to the Speedware 4GL. Once youre on Speedware, you can go
anywhere you want, Calvillo says.
HPs design of the day-long Tour leaves the core
of the transition issues for last. Database migrations are the topic
for Lund Performance Solutions Jim Kramer. But the lifelong
developer cant resist introducing a new idea to the crowd as he
demonstrates migration tools. While making all these changes in
business systems, he says, a good designer should consider
The concept, which Kramer treats as a diversion
during the prepared part of his talk, seems to draw additional
interest from the attendees in Houston. Its a crowd longer on
technical experience than management strategy, and this mini-lecture
from Kramer has them leaning forward.
If you have many, many lines of code, and you have
TurboIMAGE spread throughout your code, you have a very big task
ahead of you, Kramer said. Migrating away from IMAGE means
replacing every DBPUT, DBGET and other IMAGE intrinsic with SQL
statements. Instead of making all these replacements in an
application, Kramer advised an alternative that introduces
better structure, in case, heaven forbid, you have to do another
migration in the future. When you do it, you separate the migration
into a restructuring part on the 3000 side, and then a
The process changes where things get done in an
application, because its not good programming practice to
place TurboIMAGE calls in all modules of your application. The reason
its not a good practice, and here Kramer smiles, is
that you may be faced with a migration. The attendees erupt
into laughter, realizing the joke of hindsight being deadly
Applications should separate their interfaces to the
outside world, isolating them to a few modules: file accesses, user
interface access, operating system calls, everything outside of the
applications language. When you do that, if you have to
change the environment the application operates in, all you have to
do is change those modules.
This refactoring means isolating IMAGE calls, work
that can be done gradually, before the actual migration begins,
Kramer explains, to make it low-risk. Refactoring also has
performance advantages, since customers can do performance tests on
the refactored modules. Rewritten for the target platform, the
modules can be tested independent of the application.
There are a lot of advantages to the
refactoring approach, and I strongly recommend it if youre
doing anything other than emulating the MPE environment, Kramer
He has other advice on selecting databases, and who
the viable players are in the world outside of the 3000. Eloquence,
from Marxmeier AG, is being touted as a cost-effective
replacement for up to 500 users, and is as IMAGE-like as
possible, he says, adding that nowadays a user is not a
Other alternatives to IMAGE include IBMs DB2,
which Kramer says represents competition for Oracle on the Unix
side. Not mentioned during the tour: DB2 is the integrated
database in IBMs iSeries servers. Kramer notes that You
want to pick a going concern when selecting a database,
and that narrows it down considerably. You probably cant
go wrong with a mainstream solution.
Open source databases, he adds, may be viable,
but you need to consider where your support will come
from. He has other field notes, like OmniAccess [from
DISC] is not as simple to implement as Omnidex was, and
Its not nice to fool your database put data in
appropriate types in your target database. The sorting might
take some effort, he says, since theres 250 ways of
representing data in HP 3000 applications.
Kramer wraps up with rules of thumb for migrating
that reflect his background in application and software design.
Anything you can do to break your application into steps is
highly advantageous, he says. Do everything as much as
possible in an automated way, with a script rather than by hand
because it documents what youve done and allows you to
For sites which have a huge number of applications
and databases, throwing a switch over a weekend I
dont know about you, but that scares me, Kramer says.
I would like to do that gradually, through refactoring and
remote data access.
Enhancements to applications need to be frozen out
during the migration process. Kramer references the success story
presented in the morning session, where Ceridian Tax Services spent
$10 million more than budgeted and doubled its migration time by
doing Y2K work through its migration.
By sending data to the target platform through
automated FTP transfers, then testing, customers might continue to
enhance apps on the 3000 during the migration. But its most
feasible if the enhancements to the 3000 apps came through scripting
and automation. If youve changed the modules by hand,
its tougher, because then youve got to change the
enhanced modules by hand.
A flick-of-the switch migration is possible, but
it requires some cleverness, Kramer says. He explains the
Neartek AMXW emulation suite allows you to use tools in a
scripted way to help automate.
Questions and concern
In the question and answer session that follows,
customers ask how soon they need to begin their migrations. The short
answer, from Birket Foster, is that many sites need to have already
You need to start planning from the end
like what date does it become too risky to stay on the 3000? He
mentions testing being added to the time to migrate, then adds,
You probably should have started last year. A lot of folks
havent got a grip on when they should have actually
A customer wants to know how much the success
stories which HP presented have cost the companies who have been
succeeding. HPs Alvina Nishimoto takes the question and steers
the answer toward the story of CT3, a software company that cut over
in 1995 using Speedware in under a year. Their cost, she says, is
$60,000, but the Platinum partners seem to want to set expectations
more reasonably. They remind the customer that CT3 already had test
suites in place, was a software developer, was further along than
most sites will be. The customer repeats, Then were
saying the best case is $60,000, right?
Another customer asks why HP isnt providing
tools to re-factor applications, or convert from VPlus or away from
IMAGE. Nishimoto says the wide array of products from third parties
is a better choice for the customer, especially since these companies
started five years ago in development, when HP should have
started 10 years ago. She then adds a peek into the future for
HPs software involvement with the 3000 over the next year.
To be very frank, anything wed put
together would not last very long, she says. The third
parties software is more of a business theyd like to keep
Another customer asks about the caliber of the
performance in an emulated solution, such as the ones offered by
Ordina Denkart or Neartek. The partners answer that the emulated
solutions can often be better than full native rewrites for a target
I wouldnt automatically assume that an
emulator is slower than a rewrite, Lunds Kramer says,
adding, For the typical staff, Id bet on the
emulator, which draws some laughter from the crowd.
Its nearing the end of a long day packed with a
lot of information, and a reception with pizza, veggie dip and an
open bar awaits down the hall. But one customer puts a sharp point on
getting HPs help in weathering the near term, before a
migration. HPs said it will loan customers an HP 9000 free for
six months, but admitted many migrations take longer than that, and
the loan doesnt include support, either. Sandra Gill, the MIS
manager for oil industry supplier TIW Corp., says her 85-year-old
firm needs a homesteading option.
Theres no way we can afford a migration
now, she says, so what can you tell us about third party
HPs answer follows the party line: it
cant guarantee anything about a third party support solution.
We will not be able to support [these providers],
Nishimoto says. Well make patches available, and we will
allow license transfers, and were investigating having
personnel available to install board upgrades.
The last resorts, HPs official adds, are the
Microsoft .Net solutions running on HPs Intel PC hardware,
available for less cost than Unix solutions.
One of the last messages HP leaves customers with is
about the risk of migration. The emulation tools minimize the
risk, because if you touch code theres a big possibility it
might break, Nishimoto says. You can get it running [on
another platform], then you can worry about whether you want to
re-engineer, and get it more native.
That solution gets 3000 customers off the hardware,
but only far enough away to reduce whatever risk the customers feel
in using third party support and hardware channels which many say
theyre already considering. You cant afford to have
your business down, Nishimoto says in closing. Its a
prospect the attendees must work to avoid, regardless of which path
they choose in their transitions.