Harz-Klinikum Wernigerode-Blankenburg was created in 2004 by the merger of two hospitals. Both hospitals operated distinct hospital information systems (HIS) and accounting applications on one OpenVMS AlphaServer each. The new hospital created by the merger faced a choice: either combine the two existing systems, which would have necessitated complex data consolidation, or start fresh and archive the old data. Since the merger also entailed extensive organizational restructuring, the second option was chosen. “This allowed the new system to be adapted to the hospital’s future organizational processes without carrying over old data from the legacy systems,” explained Andreas Ritter, head of the Harz-Klinikum IT department.
The old patient data was recorded to microfilm and stored in a central archive. The accounting data, on the other hand, had to remain accessible for several years for compliance reasons, so the legacy systems had to be maintained somehow until then. In the meantime, however, maintaining the old hardware was becoming increasingly difficult, due to the scarcity of spare parts and high maintenance costs. “We started to look for alternatives,” said Ritter.
Andreas Ritter learned that an AlphaServer could be virtualized in a binary-compatible way on modern x86 hardware using the Charon-AXP emulator from Stromasys. He contacted the IT consulting firm Invenate, which supports companies with OpenVMS systems throughout Germany and has successfully implemented many Charon solutions. Following a comprehensive analysis of the current environment, Invenate proposed a new system design and a migration plan for the two Alphas. As applications needed to be accessed only occasionally, and simultaneous access to both systems was not a strict requirement, the two Alphas could be configured on a single virtual system. The server to be started could then be selected within the Windows operating environment. The installation required only one Charon license, making this an economical solution.
Volker Halle, an Invenate technical consultant and internationally respected VMS specialist, installed the system and migrated the applications and data. “It all went on schedule and without a hitch,” Ritter confirmed. “Invenate demonstrated a high level of competence and professionalism. We are relieved to be rid of the old hardware and the associated risks.”
Since the migration, the applications have been running smoothly and trouble-free. Aside from a marked improvement in performance, the hardware change is unnoticeable. This positive first experience has encouraged the hospital to envisage using Charon again when it replaces the production version of the hospital application it is currently using, which runs on an Alpha DS20 with the Tru64 operating system.