Archive for: Charon | Stromasys

Hardware Virtualization Solutions at HPE Discover

 

For over a decade, Stromasys has worked closely with HPE to offer cross-platform server virtualization solutions for DEC and HPE classic hardware. These solutions have benefited customers worldwide by enabling them to eliminate their aging hardware platforms and often by improving performance of the mission critical applications that these businesses depend on.

As a technology alliance partner with HPE, Stromasys looks forward to taking part in the HPE Discover event in Madrid (28th-30th November 2017) to demo Charon hardware virtualization solutions  to all customers running applications on OpenVMS, True64, MPE & Solaris operating systems. Stromasys will reveal how Charon enables applications created for one architecture and operating system to run on different platforms without modification—yet allowing them to move to a modern infrastructure.

Visit Stromasys at booth #171 during the show to speak with an expert and learn more about Charon virtualization solutions. Stromasys has a range of software and service solutions designed to optimize your applications and improve your data center. You can schedule a free demo at the HPE Discover event by clicking here.


Supporting Tru64 Users with Legacy Alpha Emulation

While legacy hardware is failing, the legacy operating system and the original applications have a much longer lifetime. Typically, they are still in great shape even when the original hardware begins to break down. Charon solutions are a way to move forward and continue using those durable legacy operating systems and applications, but without the pain points of the aging hardware. The below is an interview with Sandy Levitt, Senior Sales Engineer and Director of Sales Operations at Stromasys. Sandy has many years of experience with DEC systems and the Tru64 operating system. Read this interview to learn more about how Charon can help legacy system users move toward Alpha emulation and how Charon supports the Tru64 operating system, as well as others like OpenVMS, Solaris, and MPE.

 

Sandy, would you describe how you first became involved with legacy systems?

The first Unix I ever worked on was Ultrix, which ran on MIPS and VAX from Digital Equipment Corporation.   At first I worked as a presales engineer in the government space, helping sell what was the state-of-the-art BSD-based Unix.  It was not enough for me, so I ended working in the Customer Support Center, helping to fix customer problems.  DEC was an innovative company at the time, and soon enough they were coming out with a new Unix called OSF/1 that we were going to support on what was going to be the fastest chip out there, the Alpha. (OSF/1 later became Tru64)  Business was growing and so was the call volume.   Our team kept growing and growing until we had about 30 people.

And you have continued to work with Tru64, Unix, and DEC legacy systems since then?

Fast forward about 15 years.  Since that time, Digital was bought by Compaq, and then by HP, which had its own systems, and UNIX- HPUX.   It took time, but eventually the number of customers running Tru64 was dwindling. Linux had become the de facto Unix, and X86 the de facto chip. Not to say that there were not other Unix types and chips, but the market had definitely shifted. HPE no longer provided engineering support for Tru64. As of Dec 31st 2016, HPE will no longer support Tru64.

What was remarkable, though, was how many major customers still had Alphas running Tru64. It was and still is a reliable, stable workhorse to critical applications in all different industries.

What brought you over to Stromasys?

When I was let go in 2014, with 20+ years of experience in Tru64, I was not sure where my future was going. I was learning Linux, but it wasn’t the same. How could I continue my love of Tru64 in the modern Cloud/VM/x86 world?

The answer lay in Stromasys.   When I found out they were hiring, I was so excited. Would working for a company with about 100 employees be different than working for HP (now HPE)?  It definitely would be, but for the better. Within Stromasys, and its customers, is a love for the legacy systems and operating systems. Why migrate an application that runs perfectly fine on a stable operating system?  The only problem is that the hardware was starting to fail.   But here the OS and application could continue to run on modern X86 systems.   At Stromasys, I have watched many customers migrate their Tru64 systems seamlessly to emulated hardware, so that they continue to run mission critical applications.   The amazement that these customers have in what we do—that’s why I do this.

Secretly, though, I also do this because I see the operating system that I grew to love for 20+ years continue to live. Working with Tru64 is like slipping on that old sweatshirt.  It just makes you feel good.

As a Tru64 expert yourself, how do you see Stromasys addressing the needs of other Tru64 users?

It does so by providing a stable environment for Tru64 to run on. Since Tru64 is stable as an operating system, experience dictates that most crashes and downtime are due to hardware failing. As I mentioned earlier, Stromasys also is able to provide support for Tru64, as HP is discontinuing all support as of December 31, 2016.

So that means Tru64 users and the organizations relying upon the operating system won’t have to worry about downtime caused by an unsupported operating system, right?

Exactly. We have a team of Tru64 experts who will provide the same kind of support for not only our Charon solutions that allow hardware emulation of the original DEC hardware, but also for the Tru64 operating system that runs on top of it.

What advice would you give to engineers still using these platforms daily within their organizations? 

Any migration plans will take double the time originally anticipated, so don’t neglect these systems. And, of course, getting rid of the hardware risk and placing the legacy application and operating system on x86 is the safe thing to do.

For more information on next steps for your legacy system, visit our Solutions page or contact us for a consultation.


Running OpenVMS on Virtual Hardware

Last month, we were a sponsor of OpenVMS Boot Camp in New Hampshire, the largest event specifically for members of the OpenVMS community. OpenVMS, along with Solaris, Tru64, and MPE, is one of the legacy operating systems our customers frequently run on their legacy hardware.

As everyone at OpenVMS Boot Camp would attest, OpenVMS is a great OS. One of the reasons so many businesses still use it (since its original release in 1977) is precisely because of how reliable it is. While the VAX and Alpha hardware is no longer produced, the operating system and the applications running on it are doing just fine.

One of many questions we were asked at OpenVMS Boot Camp was whether a company needed to upgrade to a particular version of OpenVMS in order to adopt a Charon hardware emulation solution. There are minimum versions of OpenVMS required, based on the VAX or Alpha model to be replaced, but the vast majority of our customers do not need to upgrade. Here’s why:

Charon Solutions

Our Charon solutions are hardware replacement solutions. We swap out the aging hardware and replace it with a new, industry standard server running our Charon software solution. Charon software allows a modern x86 server to function exactly the same way the legacy server always did. Because this is strictly hardware emulation, the legacy operating system and application(s) continue to run without any modifications or code recompile.

This means that it doesn’t matter what version of OpenVMS, or other legacy OS, you’re running. Those layers are migrated over to the x86, and we don’t change them in the process.

Benefits of OpenVMS

There are a couple of major benefits to this. The most obvious one is that for all intents and purposes, the legacy system continues to function just as it always has. In fact, we’ve had a number of implementations where end users were entirely unaware that changes had taken place. They interact with the system, with the application, exactly as they always did. If end users do observe a change, it’s typically because of a performance improvement, such as a report that can be completed in a fraction of the time it would have taken on the original hardware.

A second benefit is the Charon emulator translation is bit for bit compatible with original DEC systems, including floating point precision.  Stromasys uses Digital Equipment Corp.- developed tools to ensure Charon is 100% compatible with the original hardware, including MDM (MicroVAX Diagnostic Monitor),  UETP (User Environment Test Package, part of VMS),  and AXE (DEC’s VAX and Alpha CPU architecture verification tool).

Another benefit to our legacy hardware emulation solutions is that, because nothing above the hardware level is modified, no recertification is required. For many verticals operating under heavy regulations or compliancy standards, changes to the OS or application would require that the business undergo a lengthy and exhaustive recertification process to validate the system, but our solution makes that unnecessary. By exchanging the aging hardware for a more modern, reliable alternative, Charon solutions mitigate risk while providing a straightforward and low-hassle path to business continuity.