HP tell OpenVMS users that OS has a future after 30 years

Hewlett-Packard officials are marking the 30th anniversary of the OpenVMS operating system's introduction by telling users of the software that it still doesn't have an expiration date.

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Hewlett-Packard officials are marking the 30th anniversary of the OpenVMS operating system's introduction by telling users of the software that it still doesn't have an expiration date.

To deliver that message, HP has brought out some of its top executives, including Martin Fink, senior vice president and general manager of the company's business-critical systems group.

During a webcast last week, Fink responded to questions submitted by members of the Chicago-based Encompass user group. Encompass, which originated as a group for customers of the former Digital Equipment Corporation, also posted a document containing written responses to questions that were posed to Fink in advance of the webcast.

In addition, Mark Hurd, HP's chairman, CEO and president, has recorded a video that can be viewed on an OpenVMS 30th anniversary Web site that the vendor has set up. In the video, Hurd tells OpenVMS users that the operating system remains a "key product" and that HP "will continue to support it for the foreseeable future."

Moreover, HP last week announced an updated version of the operating system that is due out within the next two weeks and will include new hardware support plus other features. The company also said it plans to add support for the JBoss and MySQL open-source technologies in a subsequent release next year.

OpenVMS was released on 25 October 1977, and initially known simply as VMS. The software was developed by DEC, which later was acquired by Compaq Computer Corp., which in turn was purchased by HP in 2002.

The acquisitions made the OpenVMS user community nervous - as did HP's subsequent decision to end development and sales of its AlphaServer systems, the hardware line that was synonymous with OpenVMS. HP says AlphaServer users should switch to its Itanium-based Integrity servers.

But some users are worried that pulling the plug on the AlphaServers will send a signal to independent software vendors that OpenVMS is just a second cousin to HP-UX, the company's version of Unix, and thereby influence future porting decisions on key applications.

For instance, Cerner, the vendor of health care applications that run on OpenVMS on the AlphaServer line, said earlier this year that it didn't plan to support that operating system on the Integrity hardware. Instead, Cerner had begun offering its flagship Millennium 2007 software on Integrity systems running HP-UX.

Despite HP's recent efforts to get its message out about the future of OpenVMS, users like Charles Tollett remain concerned.

"I'm waiting to see if the actions match the statements," said Tollett, an OpenVMS systems administrator who asked that his company not be identified. He added that he wants HP to do more to keep the existing support of independent software vendors for OpenVMS -- and even build on it.

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