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French fight the death of OpenVMS

Patrick Thibodeau | July 30, 2014
An OpenVMS user group in France has posted an 'open letter' to Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman urging her to reconsider HP's decision to begin pulling support for the system.

An OpenVMS user group in France has posted an "open letter" to Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman urging her to reconsider HP's decision to begin pulling support for the operating system.

The letter, written by OpenVMS consultant Gerard Calliet on behalf of user group HP-Interex France, explains the important role OpenVMS plays in running transportation systems, health services and even nuclear power plants in France.

"These software products are the result of decades of precise programming, inscribed in precise coding imperative for such functional necessities," Calliet wrote. "A majority of them use functions specific to OpenVMS and still run on OpenVMS, as these custom features are hard to find elsewhere."

The user group accuses HP of being unclear about its direction and creating confusion. "Not only are big companies anxious about functional risks and huge investments, they have also been immobilized by over a year of expectation," Calliet said in the letter.

HP was asked for its reaction to the open letter, but a response wasn't immediately available.

In 2013, HP said it would continue support for OpenVMS on its Integrity i2 Itanium servers "through at least the end of 2020." In January this year, HP revised its plans and said it would extend "mature product support without sustaining engineering" on the i2 servers at least through 2025. Support services that have sustaining engineering include the ability to create new patches as needed.

But a key issue, which was unchanged by the January announcement, was that HP wasn't supporting OpenVMS on its latest hardware, the Integrity i4.

If HP does not validate a port to the Integrity i4, said Calliet in an email, users would have to buy old i2 Itanium systems, which won't have sufficient power.

The i2 servers have Tukwila quad-core processors with up to a 1.73GHz clock rate. The i4 servers have eight-core Poulson chips with clock rates of up to 2.53GHz.

OpenVMS does not get the public attention of HP-UX, Linux or Windows. The only people who know anything about OpenVMS systems are probably in IT departments. Business executives at many organizations may be unaware that the operating system is running their companies' critical business functions. This lack of knowledge hurts support for the system, increasing OpenVMS's vulnerability.

HP has had experience bringing an end to legacy systems, including its HP 3000 midrange systems, which featured a proprietary MPE operating system, and Tru64, a Unix operating system. Like OpenVMS, these systems were praised for their reliability and functionality.

As it brings support for OpenVMS to a close, HP may adjust dates and time frames to address user concerns, as was the case with its announcement in January, but the message will remain the same: Migrate.


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