Stromasys Explains: What is Emulation?


Mission-critical (and often customized) applications, running on legacy hardware, are subject to a constant threat of unplanned hardware downtime. Other considerations, such as diminishing support, increasing maintenance costs, and a growing cyber security risk, lead IT organizations to seek ways to rid themselves of legacy servers.

A daunting task is figuring out where to begin and how to modernize. In some situations, the application source code is gone, and the original developer has long-since retired. Modernization projects can also suffer from lengthy timelines and out-of-control costs, never mind the headaches of securing new hardware or the potential of having to rewrite the applications.

What is the solution? Stromasys emulation software, Charon. Charon makes the migration of legacy applications to a modern x86 platform (either on-prem or to the Cloud) possible. Charon employs a “lift and shift” process, negating the need for recertification of the applications or retraining of end users.

To better assess how emulation may work in your environment, below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers:

1. Which operating systems can Stromasys migrate?

Stromasys can migrate MPE/iX, OpenVMS, Tru64, SunOS, Solaris, and HP-UX (up to 11.23).
Stromasys can migrate these systems to a modern x86 platform or to the Cloud. We work with all major cloud providers, including AWS, MS Azure, Oracle Cloud, and Google.

2. Which legacy hardware do you replace?

Charon replaces legacy SPARC, DEC Alpha and VAX, PDP-11, and PA-RISC systems.

These legacy systems were introduced in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. The Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) introduced PDP in 1969, VAX in 1978 and Alpha in 1994, while Hewlett-Packard released PA-RISC systems in 1972. Oracle (formerly Sun Microsystems) first released SPARC servers in 1987.

Legacy hardware is characterized by a proprietary architecture which is no longer manufactured and supported. Stromasys is continually developing new solutions for the next generation of hardware on the path to becoming “legacy.”

3. How long does a typical emulation project take?

Most Charon implementations average three to five days. This timeframe is dependent upon the amount of data being migrated over to the new platform.

4. How do we get started?

The Stromasys sales team will help coordinate discovery around your current environment, engaging our field engineers to collect information about your current system and performance requirements, including the amount of data to be migrated. We can then make a recommendation in terms of x86 specifications or cloud instances, as it relates to the specific cloud provider.

A proof-of-concept (POC) may be offered which is an implementation of our Charon solution in your specific environment. POCs assist in proving out whether Charon is the right path for your requirements. POCs also showcase the benefits of securing your applications while improving their performance.

Additionally, if there are special or peripheral devices attached to your legacy systems, we may be able to assist in finding updated options or alternatives.

5. How is Charon implemented?

Below is a chart outlining the tasks involved in installing Charon.

6. What about performance?

Depending on the legacy system’s age, the applications and how the system is being utilized, the installation of Charon combined with a new x86 platform, tend to increase the performance.

7. How much does Charon cost?

Costs for a POC, software licenses, and implementation can vary depending upon the original legacy hardware and the amount of data being migrated.  Engineering assessments help determine the appropriate solution (and related costs) for your environment.

To better understand your savings using Charon, please see our ROI calculator which calculates your estimated cost savings post-migration.

Contact us today for more information on how we may help you.