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HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the diversity-in-action dept.

HP 136

dcblogs (1096431) writes Hewlett-Packard has changed its direction on OpenVMS. Instead of pushing its users off the system, it has licensed OpenVMS to a new firm that plans to develop ports to the latest Itanium chips and is promising eventual support for x86 processors. Last year, HP put OpenVMS on the path to extinction. It said it would not validate the operating system to its latest hardware or produce new versions of it. The move to license the OpenVMS source code to a new entity, VMS Software Inc. (VSI), amounts to a reversal of that earlier decision. VSI plans to validate the operating system on Intel's Itanium eight-core Poulson chips by early 2015, as well as support for HP hardware running the upcoming 'Kittson' chip. It will also develop an x86 port, although it isn't specifying a timeframe. And it plans to develop new versions of OpenVMS.

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Excellent! (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47577613)

As a qualified Computer Systems Necromancer I've been disappointed by the lack of demand for combine technical aptitude with an ability to work with the undead creatures of nightmare. HP's plans are an exciting development for me and my colleagues!

Re:Excellent! (2)

NotFamous (827147) | about 2 months ago | (#47577633)

HP's plans are an exciting development for me and my colleagues!

I assumed it was "me and my colleague". More than that sounds a little ambitious.

Re:Excellent! (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 months ago | (#47579545)

What do you mean? There are lots of people in hell.

Re:Excellent! (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 2 months ago | (#47577883)

Operation Oversight will be down on this like ton of bricks

VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577913)

You joke, but "nightmare" would be an accurate description for today's youth if asked to work with VMS. :-)

We are talking about a CLI (DCL) which is so out of date you cannot even edit commands which span more than one line.

There's also no nice modern 1990s technologies such as filename completion as well.

The filesystem (ODS-2/ODS-5) is robust, if slow, however. It cannot handle upcoming multiple terabyte disk sizes however.

Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 months ago | (#47577959)

Somehow I fondly remember VMS running on HP hardware back in the 90s. A local university had a dialup guest account. It was fun. Going back to the DOS prompt after a finished session always made me hurt and long for something better than DOS.

Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (4, Informative)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 2 months ago | (#47578049)

Somehow I fondly remember VMS running on HP hardware back in the 90s. A local university had a dialup guest account. It was fun. Going back to the DOS prompt after a finished session always made me hurt and long for something better than DOS.

"Somehow" is that you're hallucinating. VMS didn't run on any HP hardware until 2002. Prior to that it only ran on DEC and Compaq hardware.

Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578653)

Are you the same Eric Smith who worked at Digital on OSF/1, then Digital UNIX, then Tru64 UNIX?

Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578065)

> Somehow I fondly remember VMS running on HP hardware back in the 90s.

Somehow is right since HP didn't acquire VMS until 2002.

Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 months ago | (#47579605)

Sorry, I can't type, it was DEC hardware, duh.

Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (1, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 months ago | (#47579533)

Since VMS was my first real operating system (MS-DOS doesn't count since it's a program loader rather than an OS) I see this as good news.

VMS is actually a lot easier to use for a complete beginner than *Nix, even though it has some quirks.

Re:Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579113)

Bob Oliver Francis Howard, is that you?

Re:Excellent! (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 2 months ago | (#47579485)

Mr. Howard would like a word with you...

Re:Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579621)

set def [-] !

All the happy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577619)

I has them. I've been a huge fan of VMS since I first used, then later managed, DECstations at my university. Supported that platform for DECADES, and watched it finally go down the tubes under HP.

SO glad it's coming back!

Re:All the happy (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#47577747)

I used to have an account on DEC's Alpha test servers, and remember testing out VAX/VMS back in the day.

Seeing OpenVMS being pushed for Itanium products though... that's running one doomed OS on another doomed and believed extinct platform.

I don't really see where they're going to make a profit on this, at least enough to survive until they can port it over to a modern x86 architecture.

After they do THAT, I can see it being viable, especially if they provide legacy binary support. There's still a lot of iron running VMS, and most of it, while necessary infrastructure, is running on hardware that I can't imagine can last much longer.

But they'd better get the port and compatibility layer rock solid before they try selling it, or we're in for some painful times (brownouts, water service outages, etc).

Re:All the happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577873)

Yes - why itanium? Why? If you port your OS to a new processor, you go for a popular one . . .

Re:All the happy (1)

armanox (826486) | about 2 months ago | (#47578349)

Because it currently runs on Itanium. As does HP-UX

Re:All the happy (2)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47578405)

Because you're trying to establish a niche. Everyone's running on x86 or amd64, you need to set yourself apart. Since the Itanium-based boxes, if Wikipedia is to be trusted, tend to sell in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars range, then perhaps this is an attempt to bring the OS back into the supercomputing market where it might actually find interest. From HP's perspective, since they're the main seller of Itanium-based systems, it's also a way for them to use something that they have significant money invested in and may not be selling as well as it should.

Thing is, it's going to come down to applications. At my work they're convinced that the i-Series/AS/400 is the devil's work, and they're wanting to replace it with Microsoft-based servers, and that's even with good recordkeeping and financial software that's reasonably up-to-date. If VMS is really as dead as it sounds, then there's going to be a dearth of applications for it, and with competition from other large "big iron" machines, large POSIX systems, and even from Microsoft virtual-cluster systems, it's going to be hard to justify getting in on VMS again. If there are any existing VMS users with applications that they haven't been able to replace then those would be the first customers, but there are only so many Rand Corporations and National Weather Services out there.

Re:All the happy (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 months ago | (#47579539)

I would like to see it under ARM-64 too!

Re:All the happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577919)

"Down the tubes under HP" is redundant. That place is where tech goes to die.

All of this wonderful, stable, world class tech.. Beaten with a lead pipe and drown in a river with cement shoes.

All to make room for the dead-end failure that is Itanium.

Yet somehow HP continues to exist, gobbling up more properties just to trash every single one of them.

I'm not really mad at HP. I'm more worried about what this tells us about American business.

Re:All the happy (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47578419)

I remember when there was discussion about getting rid of their printers division. Someone should have been smacked upside the head for that one, as HPs are really the only printers worth having. We've got ancient Laserjet 4s running still, and just about everything in their commercial/workgroup size since then has been good. They've had some stinkers in the color printing department (the 4500/4550 that spun the cartridges and tended to fling toner through the entire inside comes to mind, as does the 4600/4650 with the fuzz problem) but they've been a hell of a lot better than Lexmark or Dell.

Re:All the happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579085)

I remember when there was discussion about getting rid of their printers division. Someone should have been smacked upside the head for that one, as HPs are really the only printers worth having. We've got ancient Laserjet 4s running still, and just about everything in their commercial/workgroup size since then has been good. They've had some stinkers in the color printing department (the 4500/4550 that spun the cartridges and tended to fling toner through the entire inside comes to mind, as does the 4600/4650 with the fuzz problem) but they've been a hell of a lot better than Lexmark or Dell.

True that about the printers.
However, regarding whoever wrote their windows drivers, maybe someone could drive over and give them a punch in the mouth.

Re:All the happy (1)

Billlagr (931034) | about 2 months ago | (#47578529)

I haven't touched VMS in...well literally, years. Last time I used it was on a VAX 11/780, and MicroVAX(en) II's I think? Wasted many an hour on 'phone' instead of doing assignments. When not at a local terminal, I used terminal mode on a DEC Rainbow 100 (manually-dialled 2400 baud modem) Talk about keep it in the family..

If there have been signs..... (0)

thieh (3654731) | about 2 months ago | (#47577627)

I am surprised that people still want to use OpenVMS. I imagined that either people switched to Debian or custom OS or whatnot by the time HP even think of discontinue that back then

Re:If there have been signs..... (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 months ago | (#47577763)

"I am surprised that people still want to use OpenVMS. "

Most Railways electronic Dispatching Systems run on OpenVMS, even the latest versions.

It's a bit like the Space Shuttle, you can't change anything without a crapload of red tape.

The only thing I don't understand in the article, is that they have been running it on x86 systems for 10 years.

Re:If there have been signs..... (3, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 months ago | (#47577933)

No there is no x86 code port, you might be thinking of emulator, which is fine if you want to emulate a microVAX workstation

What? Yes, there is. (1)

emil (695) | about 2 months ago | (#47578935)

Re:What? Yes, there is. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579091)

That is not OpenVMS, that is a VMS like OS built from the ground up with no original source.

Re:If there have been signs..... (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 2 months ago | (#47578017)

Exactly: I'm sure there are tons of custom apps written for VMS in banks, insurance companies, railroads, etc. These are places where 'if it works, don't break it' rules, and VMS is working, and has worked for decades. Being able to buy support and replace hardware is valuable to them, and I wouldn't switch platforms in their place unless there was no other option.

Re:If there have been signs..... (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47578423)

I want to know how many legacy VMS users there really are left out there. It's been SO long that companies have been forced to start researching migrating off of VMS, and I expect that a lot have made the jump.

I'm wondering if this is more an attempt to bolster staggering Itanium sales than it is to really make VMS strong again.

plenty are on hecnet (1)

0xdeaddead (797696) | about 2 months ago | (#47578543)

no really, a decnet network [update.uu.se] for hobbiest, enthusiasts.

There are literally dozens of us!

Itanium is not x86 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578127)

Are you confusing Itanium (IA-64) with x86 ?

Itanium is most certainly not x86. VMS runs native on the former; it does not run native on the latter.

Re:If there have been signs..... (3, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 months ago | (#47577915)

banks and insurance companies still use OpenVMS, which has clustering and filesystem features GNU/Linux and Unix have yet to evolve. Why do you mention Debian, it has no ability to run OpenVMS software

Re:If there have been signs..... (5, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 months ago | (#47579787)

I am surprised that people still want to use OpenVMS.

OpenVMS is the most mature microkernel OS out there. You can have flaky hardware, flaky drivers, flaky software, and it'll just keep running perfectly, restarting whatever services as need, as often as needed. You can't make it panic.

It also has more advanced clustering than most people believe exists... A server's full state is replicated in real-time, so a hardware failure doesn't even need to be handled by applications, they just think everything has been running for the past decade...

OpenVMS has ridiculous uptimes, over a decade, even on heavily utilized systems. Far longer than anything else out there.

http://www.uptimes-project.org... [uptimes-project.org]

http://www.osnews.com/comments... [osnews.com]

About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577641)

Finally a decent platform to once again write FORTRAN on. Oh, how I've missed you!

Re:About time (1)

thieh (3654731) | about 2 months ago | (#47577697)

I would have thought every platform is decent for FORTRAN.

Re:About time (1)

hubie (108345) | about 2 months ago | (#47579071)

DEC introduced some very handy and useful extensions to FORTRAN and had an awesome compiler, and these non-standard extensions ended up getting supported by non-DEC compilers. They also had an outstanding language reference manual [trailing-edge.com] . In my experience, almost everyone who used a VAX for programming did so in FORTRAN while almost all the C programmers did their work on the Sun workstations.

Re:About time (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47578431)

I think that the controller in my air conditioner is powerful enough for FORTRAN programs...

Re: About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579451)

You would be surprised. Most modern numerical-methods "super-computing" is still written in FORTRAN because no other language kicks as much math ass as FORTRAN does.

VMS returns (2)

jgotts (2785) | about 2 months ago | (#47577653)

The Vomit-making system returns from the dead in zombie form!

The old timers were right (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 2 months ago | (#47577693)

OpenVMS will outlive us all. I really can't believe there are that many OpenVMS boxes in the wild. Can anyone list some applications still being run by OpenVMS?

Re:The old timers were right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577739)

I think these applications are called "Manufacturing Facilities". Listing them would be difficult but you can, for example, find a map of facilities in the U.S that manufacture "Chemicals" here:
http://www.epa.gov/sectors/sectorinfo/sectorprofiles/chemical/map.html

There are more, too! Just look!

Re:The old timers were right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577801)

FactSet runs off OpenVMS. However they've spent a lot of effort porting everything to get off of it. This news is too late for them to stop their transition. I'd bet other companies are in the same position. Probably glad OpenVMS will live on in case their ports fail, but too far along to not continue porting their systems.

Re:The old timers were right (1)

_merlin (160982) | about 2 months ago | (#47579005)

The popular OM derivatives exchange platform (used by ASX, HKFE, SGX, OSE, etc.) used to run on VMS, but they already moved it to Linux a few years ago.

The old timers were right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577831)

Here is HP's page of links, but HP has neglected it like it has OpenVMS itself...

http://h71000.www7.hp.com/success-stories.html

Re:The old timers were right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577927)

Can anyone list some applications still being run by OpenVMS?

Let's just say: "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

Re:The old timers were right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579093)

Can anyone list some applications still being run by OpenVMS?

IDX. The jewel written in MUMPS that runs on OpenVMS.

http://h71000.www7.hp.com/open... [hp.com]

Re:The old timers were right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577939)

At least one major media distribution company's billing system runs on OpenVMS still

Re:The old timers were right (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47578447)

At least one major media distribution company's billing system runs on OpenVMS still

That would probably be one of the easiest things migrate off of VMS though, as there are already products for other platforms that can do that task. I'd expect special things like weather mapping, earthquake analysis, climate prediction, and other geophysical things to be harder.

Re:The old timers were right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578091)

> Can anyone list some applications still being run by OpenVMS?

They won't be off-the-shelf. They will be custom apps that were developed either in house or under contract. Most of the people with expertise on them will be long gone so porting to a new platform is so expensive and risky that many customers will prefer to just pay out the butt to HP or someone else for new systems. I hope the technical people running those systems know just how crazy valuable their niche skills are and are getting paid in line with that. If the tables were turned their jobs would be outsourced to some kid making pennies an hour.

Re:The old timers were right (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 months ago | (#47578323)

I'm sure there are hundreds if not thousands of systems out there running on it because the application it runs is essential, runs perfectly fine and would cost billions to replace.

Sometimes it's not smart to replace something just because you can or it's outdated. If it serves it's purpose, the code is essentially error free because it's been in use so long and the systems work fine there is little need to replace them. I'd argue it's better at that point to keep the original software and build new ways to access it through external applications than it is to recreate the server application.

Re:The old timers were right (1)

rastass (618778) | about 2 months ago | (#47578615)

There are still a few installations around running DCS / SCADA in power stations, refineries etc. We used to put VAX clusters in to run the databases, and used an OS/2 front end for the graphics. In its day (early 1990s) it was miles ahead of anything x86 and many have continued running since then without crashing.

Re:The old timers were right (1)

drhank1980 (1225872) | about 2 months ago | (#47579279)

I work in semiconductor manufacturing. The very first place I worked out of college ran the manufacturing execution system on OpenVMS. It was a bit of an shock to get a log in to the VMS cluster on my first day as this was in the 2000s and I had only learned about VMS in my operating systems classes as a historical example. I have also noticed that the older Nikon imaging tools [nikonprecision.com] have OpenVMS running the main application controlling the tool.

I found OpenVMS to be a great zero frills system for doing this type of work. I am sure there are plenty of manufacturing sites that will be interested in the port to x86 so they can get some more modern (and reasonably priced) hardware to support their mission critical applications without having to start from scratch with a new system.

The right tool for the right job (4, Informative)

stox (131684) | about 2 months ago | (#47577729)

There are applications that VMS does very well in. Clustering under VMS is unsurpassed by anything else.

Re:The right tool for the right job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578147)

Yep. Real filesharing... ran a medium size cluster in financial services production. Damn solid piece of work. Nothing I have worked with on any other platform even came close. Did a lot of VMS macro and HLL programming -- spoiled me for anything else. Nice to see that it is not going quietly into the night like so many other great products. Maybe there is hope yet...

The right tool for the right job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579033)

Clustering is a big thing nowadays, but VMS had a working system 25+ years ago (albeit with weird proprietary hardware). They were doing things like distributed lock management way back then.

Re:The right tool for the right job (1)

Jahta (1141213) | about 2 months ago | (#47579847)

There are applications that VMS does very well in. Clustering under VMS is unsurpassed by anything else.

Amen to that! It's disheartening that many more modern clustering technologies can't do what VMS could do 20+ years ago.

Never give up a sole supplier position (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577749)

They're great for hustling governments

Not in visable uses... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577793)

OpenVMS is still used where high availability is needed but rarely at the front of a stack visible to users. Were I work, it's the back end, core application server (OpenVMS 8.4 on Integrity blades in a C7000 chassis), that without much effort stays up in the five or six 9's range, we use 2 or 3 CPUs worth of processing out of 16 and nobody complains about performance. Two of us easily survive 24/365 on-call because there is rarely a call. Changes from the software vendor or our in house programing staff are weekly if not daily, so it's not a static environment. We have no intent or desire to move to something else, there is little incentive: it would take 10 years to convert and certify, and several million dollars that we could us elsewhere (the study was done about 4 years ago when we moved from Alpha to Integrity). All that said, there is a lot of work needed to move to OpenVMS to X86-64: I don't expect anything for 5 years.

Re: Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47577891)

Given that VMS has already gone VAX -> Alpha -> Itanium, supporting two out of three for most if the times, I bet the codebase is fairly clean, actually. In fact, if I recall correctly, HP had an aborted port to AMD64 bootable at one point, although I can't find a reference at the moment.

Re: Not in visable uses... (2)

Dragon Bait (997809) | about 2 months ago | (#47578225)

Given that VMS has already gone VAX -> Alpha -> Itanium, supporting two out of three for most if the times, I bet the codebase is fairly clean, actually. In fact, if I recall correctly, HP had an aborted port to AMD64 bootable at one point, although I can't find a reference at the moment.

Grant it, it has been years and I've probably recycled those brain cells a long time ago -- but at one point I believe that the types of interrupts available to X86 CPUs was an issue for porting VMS to x86.

Re: Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578363)

Interrupt handling that had hardware support on VAX got a software layer for Alpha, and more so for Itanium:
"SWIS: SoftWare interrupt support. The set of services that implement the interrupt model used by OpenVMS. This includes processor IPL, ASTs, mode changes, and software interrupts. On Alpha, this support was implemented in PALcode."
http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/82final/6673/6673pro_010.html

Re: Not in visable uses... (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 months ago | (#47579021)

You also recycled the brain cells denoting the difference between "grant it" and "granted"....

Sorry, I could not resist...

Re: Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579035)

If there are good reasons to have those interrupts (and many other useful things) and they could apply to other stuff maybe they could get Intel/AMD to add them.

So far it looks like Intel and AMD have more transistors per chip than they know what to do with...

Re:Not in visable uses... (5, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | about 2 months ago | (#47578853)

The most bad-ass server I've ever had the pleasure of working with was a Digital VAX 11/750 generations ago. It was *built* to be reliable from the very first rivet.

Oh sure, my pocket phone has far more power, memory, and storage. Despite the ample square footage of my "McMansion" house, It would not have fit in my kitchen. It ate power like global warming really was a myth. But as a server, it was in its own class.

It would automatically detect memory that was failing and rebuild from memory (like ECC) but then would remap that address so it would no longer be used.

You could upgrade its CPUs one at a time without shutting it down.

It was like a hoover with data, versioning files was intrinsic to how the O/S worked.

One time, the A/C in the computer room went out. It mapped *everything* in RAM to disk as the temperature rose and the chips became unreliable. We literally pulled the plug on it because it was completely unresponsive, as all operations were working directly off HDD. When the A/C was fixed and it was powered up late that night, it spooled all of RAM out of the HDD swap, and everybody's workstation resumed exactly where they had left off that afternoon - we couldn't find any data loss at all.

I will forever bow in deference to the greatest server I have ever had the pleasure of working on. How HP managed to acquire such a legacy and turn its back... part of me cries inside.

Re:Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579623)

ahh you mean you it auto-hibernated when it detected critical temperatures? how 2000's

Re:Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579757)

ahh you mean you it auto-hibernated when it detected critical temperatures? how 2000's

11/750 was introduced in 1980 - so does that mean it was 20 years ahead of its time? :-)

Re:Not in visable uses... (1)

bungo (50628) | about 2 months ago | (#47579963)

And you're forgetting the wonderful wall of manuals.

Those VMS manuals were the greatest set of system documentation I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Combined with the on-line help system, you could be come an expert just by reading and trying things out.

One of the greatest disappointments I had was when I had to use MS Windows for the first time, there was no manual that details all of the commands possible. How can you know what a system can do, if you don't detail all of the features?

Re:Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579255)

Been there, done that. Had to wait for the manager who kept spouting the "reliability" and "we can't afford that" to drop dead. Literally: like other former DEC employees, the only way we could migrate *anything* was over his dead body.

The money we saved on cooling, maintenance contracts, and very expensive storage arrays paid the grotesque medical costs of his failed medical care for that year, so at least the company didn't shaft his widow. But lord, that was a relief to get his fanboy attitude out of hte way.

Re:Not in visable uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579335)

And as you get older, or move away, the system becomes less and less supportable. Who trains on VMS anymore? No one. Who can support VMS now? Fewer and fewer people. So the resources required to maintain enterprise continuiity gradually just fades away. If your organization is wise they will plan a migration to something else (or define a concrete and funded plan for how they are going to continue running VMS) long before an emergency happens. And I'll bet if even one of your two on-call staff gets hit by the proverbial bus then a serious situation just happened. For the business as well as the individual.

Hey, I get it, you're comfortable. I liked VMS too. I also liked the AS/400. Mainframes are great if you're a shop that still uses them. Tandems had their glory years and on it goes. However the market for such systems is continually dialling down, and don't bother telling me how 'more mainframe MIPS were sold last year than ever before' or such nonsense. These are upgrades and resells to the existing install base. They almost never make a new sale to a greenfield company. The next Twitter, or Google, or Amazon will decline to build their business on a technology foundation of these older systems.

Eventually, even if a crisis doesn't hit you, one of 2 things will happen to you. First, VMS won't be able to meet some important business or technical need. At least not in the way the decision makers want. Or second, a new C-level executive will take over and decide that your organization is behind the times, not competitive, has neglected infrastructure, however the suits want to phrase it. The point is the new executive sees both a danger and an opportunity. The danger is to the organization and the opportunity is to make a name for themselves. So they start that massive project to replace VMS, spend the millions, and hope for a good outcome.

If you haven't prepared for the change and have your skill set ready for the new age, then you'll find your presence at that company... redundant. Excess to corporate needs. Not a good strategic match for the new direction.

LOL Itanium (0)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 months ago | (#47577925)

I'm sure someone's crunched the numbers and this makes sense on paper, but seriously? Porting to Itanium before x86? I know HP wants to prop up its teensy niche CPU server line, but I just can't see how to justify that. Who's going to migrate software from old VMS systems to a new one on very highly vendor-locked hardware? It seems like anything likely to ever be updated before the heat death of the universe would probably have made the jump to Linux-on-x86 years ago.

Re:LOL Itanium (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578105)

> I'm sure someone's crunched the numbers and this makes sense on paper, but seriously? Porting to Itanium before x86?

It is already ported to itanium, that happened years ago.
They are just talking about qualification testing of VMS on the latest itanium chips.

Re:LOL Itanium (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 2 months ago | (#47578163)

VAX was already on 64-bit for ages when Linux was still in it's earliest versions. It's not going 'x86'. It's going 'x86-64', which didn't exist when Itanium was created. IA-64 was Intel's vision of the future - a complete overhaul of the instruction set. It bombed, but AMD64 wasn't written until several years later - and AMD does nice chips, but they don't really compete in that segment. (Or they didn't in 2001, at least.) It made perfect sense to port to what was supposed to be the new enterprise-class processor, instead of porting to an outdated desktop-class processor.

Linux on x86 can do lots of things, and is a very good system for many situations. If you need big iron (and the capabilities it provides - things like being able to upgrade or replace CPUs on running machines without downtime), VAX is better. In many cases you don't actually need big iron - a cluster of Linux boxes will do just fine. But when you need it, nothing else will do.

Re:LOL Itanium (1)

Dragon Bait (997809) | about 2 months ago | (#47578241)

VAX was already on 64-bit for ages when Linux was still in it's earliest versions.

VAX -- the CPU architecture -- was always only 32-bit. If you mean VMS -- the operating system that was ported to 64-bit Alpha and then eventually to Itanium -- then we're good.

Re:LOL Itanium (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 2 months ago | (#47578769)

D'oh. Sorry, yeah, my bad fingers. VMS, not VAX.

Re:LOL Itanium (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about 2 months ago | (#47578169)

I'm sure someone's crunched the numbers and this makes sense on paper, but seriously? Porting to Itanium before x86? I know HP wants to prop up its teensy niche CPU server line, but I just can't see how to justify that.

The reason is they hardly have to do any work for Itanium; they just have to QA a 8-core system instead of a 4-core one. The original port was done over a decade ago. With 20/20 hindsight it was a wrong move, the right one being presumably to tell Intel to shove it and wait a few years for the x64.

Who's going to migrate software from old VMS systems to a new one on very highly vendor-locked hardware?

Someone that has a 2 or 4 core processor Itanium system already. If anything is a non-starter it's the x86 version.

Re:LOL Itanium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579051)

Especially if you'd just acquired Alphas. Did Intel ever manage to surpass them them with Itanium? If so was that before or after HP put all the PA-RISC guys and Alpha guys on it, and said to Intel, you are doing it wrong and redesigned it?

Re:LOL Itanium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578479)

They should make a better x86 HP processor.

FS compatability... (1)

guygo (894298) | about 2 months ago | (#47577943)

As an old DECcie I loved VMS, but then I was coming from RSX-11m. It made for a pretty good software development system. One thing that can really hold it back though is its file system. While it is a robust FS, it is very closely coupled with the OS. There could be some real problems if/when people want to run it on something like ext4 or ReiserFS. Bodes for a whole new set of drivers and fs converters. Sigh.

Re:FS compatability... (1)

Dragon Bait (997809) | about 2 months ago | (#47578257)

One thing that can really hold it back though is its file system.

You bring up a good point. It's been forever since I've played with VMS (v7.1 I think). What would happen if you put a case sensitive file system? How much would break? Or did they do that in the intervening years?

Re:FS compatability... (1)

axp_bofh (930745) | about 2 months ago | (#47579341)

One thing that can really hold it back though is its file system.

What would happen if you put a case sensitive file system? How much would break? Or did they do that in the intervening years?

ODS-5 has been case-sensitive w/long filenames since version 7 came out around the turn of the millennium. Not much of anything breaks; you just need to be a bit careful.

Re:FS compatability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579049)

When I started college in the fall of '92, I took CS because my dad's really close cousin...Robert Palmer...suggested I might have a future at his company once I graduated. Feelsbadman.

VMS is dead; long live WNT (0)

tepples (727027) | about 2 months ago | (#47577973)

Why stick with VMS when you can get the same Dave Cutler design [windowsitpro.com] by rotating everything one letter forward, forming the WNT at the core of Windows Server?

Re:VMS is dead; long live WNT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578263)

NT is no VMS. It wishes.

After UNIX/Linux, VMS is my favourite OS followed by RSX and TSX 11 from the PDP-11. I'm old, but DEC rules!

Re:VMS is dead; long live WNT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578379)

Because DEC/Compaq/HP never screwed it up by insisting that mundane software run with ring 0 privileges?

Re:VMS is dead; long live WNT (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 2 months ago | (#47578791)

Exactly. NT3 was cool, NT4 was turned into Windows and hid the WNT foundation as much as possible. And put the graphics in ring 0, shudder.

Re:VMS is dead; long live WNT (3, Informative)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 months ago | (#47578579)

Because they're not at all the same thing, they're not even close. There's only a superficial resemblance, very high level concepts only. Also the concepts they have in common are very often very common in many operating systems! I think the article was written by someone who'd only ever seen VMS, NT, and Unix and failed to realize just how much variety there really was out there.

(and Cutler was called in originally to do OS/2, which is also not like VMS)

Re:VMS is dead; long live WNT (1)

hey! (33014) | about 2 months ago | (#47579519)

Implementation makes a difference. Early versions of NT were quite good, but unpopular because you needed 16MB of RAM (if I recall correctly) to run them in an era when a high end personal computer shipped with 4MB of RAM. Over the years they tried to hold the line, at one point getting the minimum down to 12MB of RAM, but perhaps not coincidentally stability got really bad.

Re:VMS is dead; long live WNT (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 months ago | (#47579799)

Why stick with VMS when you can get the same Dave Cutler design by rotating everything one letter forward, forming the WNT at the core of Windows Server?

And when you want a SpaceX rocket, why not go buy a Tesla car instead?

Hear that sound? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#47578397)

The sound of hands clapping by all zero remaining Itanic lusers.

Help was awsome ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578655)

man page writers need to read a few help pages. And attempt some task on a vms system.

context sensitive,

other commands recommended on the topic.

and you never had to remember what you needed ! HELP

Re:Help was awsome ! (1)

hubie (108345) | about 2 months ago | (#47579119)

You are right, HELP was awesome.

Don't forget DECNET. That completely blew me away when I first used it. I accessed a file from half-way around the world just like it was on the computer right next to me. It was this wonderful interconnected web of VAXes all over the world that acted like a local cluster.

Strategy (3, Insightful)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 months ago | (#47578677)

Declare a platform dead one year, support it again the next year once customers had time to think about migrating away. Product strategist at HP seems to be a very nice job.

Re:Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579353)

For an enterprise system this is an extraordinarily boneheaded sequence of announcements. If you wanted to send up a rocket signalling, "Hey, this system doesn't have good vendor stewardship! Better plan for the worst!" then they couldn't have done a better job.

Customer planners, system architects, IT leadership, they all are now thinking that HP is bailing and VMS is wobbly. They've actually thought that VMS was officially dead for an entire year now.

You just don't do this in the world of enterprise support. Never make the customers nervous about existential matters concerning the technology! Just. Don't. Do. It!

I fondly remember the VAX system at the ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578863)

...community college that I attended over 25 years ago. I also remember, when Compaq purchased HP that I recall the development, of, at that time, the Alpha processor (believe that was the name of it) was a main motivator and that VMS would continue to be developed but then I haven't heard a peak-squeak of news since. Thought VMS was dead; glad that it's still kicking. :)

How about a mainstream platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47578875)

When can I get a Raspberry Pi bootable SD of this???

A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579403)

The horse left the VMS barn over 25 years ago.

VMS user here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579407)

I've been using VMS non-stop for 22 years, starting in college (on a real VT-100 terminal in a lab full of them in the basement of my dorm; used VAXPHONE to talk to friends back home; VT640s were pretty neat too) to today, writing new Fortran applications and supporting legacy FORTRAN applications that have their roots in the late '60s. We have a mixture of "old" Alphas, EV68s that still rock and have uptimes measured in years, as well as some new Itaniums. The older I get, the more I am amazed at how very well designed and DOCUMENTED!!! VMS is compared to any other OS I've ever used -- just about all of them it seems.

Open source the damn thing. (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 2 months ago | (#47579471)

Aproximately 1000 years ago, in a galaxy far far away, I learned my trade on VMS on an old Vax mainframe doing cobol. Horrible horrible stuff. But it was a rock solid operating system with features that you just don't see anymore, and more to the point having the code out there so coders can see another way of doing operating system far from the Unix or windows mainstream has a lot of value in and of itself.

Heck maybe people might port it around (Difficult job though. The old VMS had a .... unique...... way of doing things with its register marks and bizaro addressing modes) which could provide options for people who want to utilize VMSs ultra-secure design.

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