Happy Birthday, OpenVMS

Monday Oct 29th 2007 by Sean Michael Kerner

The operating system has hit the big 3-0. Is a midlife crisis on the horizon?

Thirty years ago last week, Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) released VMS v1.0 with support for the DEC VAX hardware platform.

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DEC has long since faded from the computer landscape, first going to Compaq in 1998 then to HP in May 2002 when it bought Compaq. But OpenVMS lives on.

As part of its anniversary celebrations, HP is rolling out a new marketing campaign for the middle-aged OS, as well as an incremental upgrade for the platform on HP's Integrity platform.

"OpenVMS 8.3.1H1 includes support for all of the really advanced management features within the blades environment," Dan Klein, marketing manager for OpenVMS at HP, told InternetNews.com. "OpenVMS will now be fully on a par with HP UX."

Klein was quick to point out that HP UX, which is HP's Unix operating system, is a completely different system than OpenVMS. With the new release, OpenVMS gets the same power and cooling management functionality features to take full advantage of the HP Integrity blade environment that HP already has in its HP UX 11i version 3 system.

The new release is only for the Integrity version of OpenVMS, not for Alpha, the other key constituent architecture that OpenVMS supports. The Alpha-based server is a descendant of the DEC Alpha product line HP inherited from DEC in 2002.

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The first VAX machine.
Source: HP

Klein admitted the 1H1 release was notpart of the OpenVMS plan earlier this year, as HP was not sure how much interest there would be for blades in the OpenVMS world. According to Klein, there has been a huge upswing in customers' interest in blades between April and October.

Though the 1H1 release is all about OpenVMS on Integrity, HP is still strongly supporting Alpha.

Klein noted that the next release with support for both Alpha and Integrity is set for the end of 2009. While HP no longer produces Alpha-based servers, it has publicly committed to guaranteeing OpenVMS support for Alpha until at least 2012.

"From a functionality perspective, Alpha customers don't need to move and we're committed to a single code stream," Klein said. "As customers look to improve their bottom lines, they're going to want great efficiency, and Integrity gives customers more opportunities for consolidation."

Klein argued that Alpha users can save 30 percent on power and cooling by moving from Alpha to Integrity. The Integrity platform is also capable of running Windows, HP UX and OpenVMS in a single chassis thanks to HP's virtualization engine that ships with Integrity servers.

Although HP would like customers to move to Integrity, it doesn't mean Alphas will end up in landfills. In fact, Klein revealed that HP is still supporting VAX systems customers bought 25 years ago.

"A fair assumption is that as long as a customer wants support and will pay, we will support it," Klein said.

As OpenVMS hits its new age milestone, HP is also rolling out a new marketing push and an anniversary Web site, both of which Klein said celebrate customers, and which include Amazon.com, the U.S. Postal Service and the national railways systems of Germany, Holland, Belgium, India and China.

"People don't realize that it's out there and it just keeps working," Klein said. "So one of the things we're trying to do is increase awareness."

This article was originally published on InternetNews.com.

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