OpenVMS at 30: Still Going Strong

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

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

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The first VAX machine.

Source: HP

Klein admitted that the 1H1 release was not
part 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, HP has publicly committed to guaranteeing
OpenVMS support for Alpha until at least 2012.

“From a functionality perspective Alpha customer 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.

Though HP would like customers to move to Integrity that doesn’t mean
Alpha’s will end up in landfills. In fact Klein revealed that HP is still
supporting VAX systems that 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, which include, 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.”

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