eCube’s Interview with John Egolf

Nxtware Remote Bootcamp 2015 booth2At the OpenVMS Bootcamp this past September, eCube Systems spoke with HP’s John Egolf about a variety of topics. John is a specialist in OpenVMS and the following is our conversation with him. Since the VSI announcement in June, John has become the primary contact with VSI from HP. With a focus on the relationship between HP and VSI, John communicates and resolves issues between the various HP teams, including Technical Services (TS), Supply Chain, the Business and Marketing teams, and the R&D engineering group.

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On trends in the OpenVMS Community:

  1. Customers are happy and optimistic about VSI and the future of OpenVMS.

John Egolf: Prior to the VSI announcement, a lot of customers were concerned about the end of HP’s OpenVMS roadmap. The HP i2 Integrity Server sales were extended till end of 2015. They did not want to use after market servers and saw the lack of new hardware as the beginning of the end for OpenVMS. Now, customers look at VSI and HP i4 Integrity Servers and see a brighter future for OpenVMS.

  1. Customers have more time to think about their next steps.

J.E. Companies are considering how long they will stay on OpenVMS. The VSI announcement lessened some of the urgency.

On common customer questions: 2 questions he is commonly asked:

Q: Concerns with VSI staying in business?

J.E. Customers that I talk with want assurance that VSI will be around for a long time. Because VSI is only focused on VMS, some customers are concerned about the long-term future and business longevity of VSI. HP and VSI have a very good partnership. HP wants to do anything they reasonably can to ensure VSI is successful and stays in business. HP is the primary sales channel (reseller) for the VSI products. In addition, HP is a worldwide sales force, and the customers that will buy VSI (at least initially) are install-based customers, meaning we don’t expect any truly brand new customers. These are customers who are growing or refreshing their base.

I4 servers, which VSI runs on, are actually very good servers based on price performance. They are very cost effective. Since VSI software’s availability this past June, we are seeing customers showing interest with purchase orders of HP i4 servers with VSI software, meaning business is off to a good start. While the concern is valid, don’t let that be the factor holding you back.

*When addressing this question, John tells customers Duane Harris, the CEO of VSI, has worked the numbers and sees a strong business opportunity and is confident of VSI’s longevity.

Q: When will the x86 port be available?

J.E. The port is being worked on and should be available in a couple of years. VSI will communicate updates and roadmap deliverables about this. VSI feels that the x86 port is a key part of the overall OpenVMS strategy. However, there are customers who need additional integrity servers and additional computing power now and cannot wait. Customers who are doing hardware refresh or running on older integrity servers (which are not efficient based on power, cooling, and services) need new servers as soon as possible. Some customers will wait on the x86 and that will have some impact, but if VSI delivers on their roadmap, they will buy now.

On the role of open source technology in the future of OpenVMS:

J.E. Open source is software that is contributed to by a community (the world at large). By having open source software, you have many people doing development and support. Customers can choose to get the source of the product that they’re using. Innovation happens much more quickly because you are not dependent on HP or VSI or any ISV for capability since you are working with the overall community. Having more products available on open source gives customers more choices in what they’re looking for and reduces dependency on HP or any single vendor or partner. For these reasons, open source technology is an advantage for customers and the OpenVMS Community. For example, regarding the need for more Unix compatibility, developers could take an open source Unix product, drop it on OpenVMS, and then run it without making major changes. I think close to 100% Unix compatibility with a set of libraries needs to happen.

On the role of integrated development environments (IDEs) in the OpenVMS space:

 J.E. One of the biggest complaints we hear from our customers is that it’s difficult for them to find VMS developers, testers, or systems managers. Many years ago, we had VMS in many of the universities around the world. The students would learn development and computing on a VMS system and when they got out of school, they already had hands-on experience with how to compile, link, run, and debug on OpenVMS. There were lots of potential OpenVMS developers, system managers, etc. Today, students do programming on their phones and laptops. While some still run OpenVMS, the majority of universities have Windows, Linux, and Macintosh as default platforms for students. On the development and testing side, having an IDE that works on multiple platforms and makes OpenVMS a common ground for operating systems reduces the amount of OpenVMS expertise required. Developers can focus on the business problem and not worry about learning a new system. Additionally, IDEs can improve the development environment and make it easier for customers to maintain and develop systems. This is especially true for customers who manage Unix or Linux and aren’t familiar with OpenVMS.

On the impact of virtualization:

J.E. There are two types of virtualization: 1.) HPVM (HP Virtualization Manager), HP’s virtual capability for OpenVMS, and 2.) Hardware virtualization.

HP Virtualization Manager allows multiple virtual machines to be created to run OpenVMS integrity (i64) on a single server. As far as the users are concerned, they’re on one single server and this isolates one user from another from an environmental point of view. Each user can run different versions of OpenVMS.

Although there are not a lot of customers using HPVM, hardware virtualization is popular. There is virtualization of the hardware, either Alpha or VAX, on x86. We have customers who cannot migrate off of Alpha or VAX. However, their Alpha hardware is getting older and new Alpha hardware is not available anymore. One option is to buy an Alpha emulator (virtualized environment) from one of our partners (i.e Stromasys) and run it on an x86 system like Windows or Linux. There are no changes to their code. You basically back up your physical Alpha and restore it on to the virtual Alpha. I run Alpha VMS on my laptop. Customers run this on production environments. The hardware virtualization for VAX and Alpha is quite popular and an option for some customers with aging hardware.

If their concern is about the Alpha hardware breaking or costly support contracts, I would strongly recommend the alpha emulator. While it is not cheap, once you factor in all other costs such as lab space conditioning or maintenance, the alpha emulator makes sense and you can cover the cost within 12-24 months. If the concern is administration, meaning they don’t have system managers or programmers, then they need to reach out into the community or directly with HP or VSI.

Ultimately, for customers running Integrity, virtualization does not have a large impact. Customers who use Alpha/Vax can see a significant impact from virtualization.

On the possibility of a Cloud in the future:

J.E. There is not a demand for cloud computing from VMS customers and it is not currently included in HP’s cloud strategy. I don’t see a future for cloud computing at this time. Customers could use it, but they aren’t asking for it. There is no business need to run OpenVMS on a cloud.

 Why?

 J.E. From everything I’ve read or heard about, the concept of the cloud is pretty cool. I just don’t think there is a demand for VMS in the cloud. One of the main reasons customers buy VMS is security. No matter how secure you make the cloud, the perception, if not reality, is that it won’t be as secure as having the server in your own lab. Because VMS is bought for high security, the cloud is not typically seen as the right environment.

 What news headline would you like to see for OpenVMS in 5 years?

 J.E. “OpenVMS installations surpass Linux installations for the first time”

The Future of OpenVMS: An Analysis of eCube’s 2015 OpenVMS Community Survey White Paper Now Available

Over the last year, there have been many changes in the OpenVMS space.  Of course, no change was bigger than HP licensing OpenVMS to VMS Software (VSI).  In 2014, HP released a road map that indicated a limited future for OpenVMS beyond 2020.  Until the VSI announcement, many companies and OpenVMS Community members were openly concerned about the long-term viability of OpenVMS and their strategic assets that depended on it.  Companies liked or had been satisfied with OpenVMS, but they were uncomfortable or unable to consider the prospect of using an unsupported Operating System.  As a result, many organizations began to seriously question their commitment to OpenVMS, consider a future without it and, in some cases, begin migrations.

The VSI announcement eliminated a lot of uncertainty in the OpenVMS Community and provided developers with a new OpenVMS road map that extends beyond 2020.  We were curious how the news impacted the OpenVMS Community so we conducted a survey.

After going through 73 responses, we wrote a white paper that looks at:

  1. The Impact of VSI
  2. Factors Driving OpenVMS Decisions
  3. OpenVMS in the Future

Click here to download the white paper.

Flexible IDEs and the Future Success of OpenVMS

In our OpenVMS survey, we asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement:

Flexible OpenVMS IDEs will play a major role in the future success of OpenVMS.

The majority agreed with the statement: 77% agree and 23% disagree.

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At eCube, we think IDEs are vital to the future success of OpenVMS. NXTware Remote, our Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment, allows developers to write code on a local workstation and then deploy, compile and debug on any remote server. Developers are more productive (even of they are not familiar with OpenVMS and its infrastructure) and the code quality improves.

What roles do you see for IDE’s in the OpenVMS space? Can a modern integrated development environment make for a more vibrant and successful/productive OpenVMS Community?

We are writing a white paper about the survey results.  Sign up to receive a copy via email.

Can a Modern Development Environment, Best Practices and Development Management Tools Improve OpenVMS Development?

Now that the uncertainty about the long-term future of OpenVMS has lessened, focus can turn to improving OpenVMS development. We think a modern development environment, best practices and development management tools can improve OpenVMS Development by:

  • Removing talent pool questions
  • Improving software quality
  • Speeding time to market
  • Improving task management
  • Simplifying management oversight
  • Adding organizations standardization and flexibility

We asked respondents if they agreed. The majority agreed that a modern development environment, best practices and development management tools would remove talent pool questions, improve software quality, speed time to market and add organization standardization and flexibility:

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What do you think? Are there other tools that can improve OpenVMS Development?

We are writing a white paper about the survey results.  Sign up to receive a copy via email.

Hosting OpenVMS Servers in the Cloud

In a previous post, we raised the possibility of OpenVMS cloud solutions. Although the cloud is everywhere these days, it hasn’t had an impact in the OpenVMS Community. To get a better sense of where companies stand, we asked survey respondents if their company would consider hosting OpenVMS servers in the cloud.

Here is what they said:

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Would you consider hosting OpenVMS servers in the cloud? Do you have any concerns? Without considering technical and licensing challenges, what role could the cloud play?

We are writing a white paper about the survey results.  Sign up to receive a copy via email.

NXTware Remote Brings Greater Security to the OpenVMS Development Process

eCube Systems, the leading provider of modern development tools and best practices for OpenVMS, announced SSL support for NXTware Remote Debugging to increase security and to comply with financial and federal requirements.

eCube takes security very seriously and is constantly making security enhancements to NXTware Remote.  NXTware Remote allows developers to write code on a local workstation and then deploy, compile and debug on any remote server.  Remote debugging provides many benefits, but it also introduces security risks.  When a debugging session is done on a local network, any computer on the network can try to attach to the session.  Passwords help ensure the client accessing the debug session is authenticated, but they need to be encrypted.  If the password is not encrypted, the transmission of the password is not secure.

To increase security during the debugging process, eCube added secure debugging to NXTware Remote.  In environments that require encryption for compliance reasons, the connect to the debugger can be secured using SSL.

Contact us to for more information, to request an evaluation or schedule a demo.

About NXTware Remote

NXTware Remote is an Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that makes it simple for developers to write code and then compile and debug it remotely. Enterprise IT organizations doing strategic development in COBOL, FORTRAN, C, BASIC, PASCAL, and JAVA on a variety of platforms use NXTware Remote to develop on OpenVMS, Linux and Unix servers from Windows, MAC or Linux workstations.

About eCube Systems

eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies turn to eCube Systems to reduce risk, extend ROI and increase productivity as they consolidate existing capabilities and evolve legacy systems to contemporary SOA platforms.

eCube Systems, LLC, is headquartered in Montgomery, Texas with marketing offices in Boston, MA and R&D in Montreal, Canada. For more information, visit us at http://www.ecubesystems.com/Contact.html

Why Companies Move or Consider Moving off of OpenVMS

There are numerous reasons companies continue to use OpenVMS, but there are also a lot of challenges companies who use OpenVMS encounter. The challenges cause some companies to view OpenVMS as a liability and are a factor companies consider when they evaluate whether or not they should stay on OpenVMS.

As part of our survey, we asked respondents to rank the following factors that might impact their company’s decision to migrate from OpenVMS:

q4

Why do you think companies move off of OpenVMS? Are these challenges unique to OpenVMS?

We are writing a white paper about the survey results.  Sign up to receive a copy via email.

Why Companies Continue to Use OpenVMS

Companies are drawn to OpenVMS for a variety of reasons including security, reliability and performance. Without the uncertainty over the future of OpenVMS, companies have more confidence about staying on OpenVMS and many are postponing or dropping plans to migrate off of OpenVMS.

In our OpenVMS survey, we asked respondents (on a scale of 1 to 5) how important the following factors were in keeping their company on OpenVMS: security advantage, reliability recovery, operational performance, language support and risk/cost of change.  5 of the 6 factors had a weighted average greater than 4: security advantage, reliability recovery, operational performance, risk/cost of change and promise future versions. The majority of respondents viewed these factors as important or very important. Language support was the only factor that had a weighted average lower than 4.

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What did you think? Why do companies continue to use OpenVMS? Are there other factors that are key to companies staying on OpenVMS?

We are writing a white paper about the survey results.  Sign up to receive a copy via email.

Entera Upgrades to support Big Data with latest version of NXTera

eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration and management solutions, announced the availability of NXTera 6.5, a high performance RPC middleware. With NXTera 6.5, Entera applications can support Hardoop, the file-based data store, and Hive, the ANSI-based query engine.

Hadoop is an open-source software framework for storing and processing big data in a distributed fashion on large clusters of commodity hardware. It provides companies two major benefits: massive data storage and faster processing.

Hive TM, the other addition to NXTera, allows SQL developers to write Hive Query Language (HQL) statements that are similar to standard SQL statements. The HQL statements are then broken down by the Hive service and turned into Hadoop jobs. Finally, the Hadoop jobs are executed across a Hadoop cluster.

Companies that upgrade to NXTera 6.5 will have the power they need to grow their application so it can handle big data. Contact us for more information.

About NXTera

NXTera offers support for both optimized JDBC connectivity to Hive and native inline HQL support for COBOL, FORTRAN, C/C++ and Java applications. These can be legacy Entera applications or new applications that need heterogeneous language support across multiple middleware architectures. Learn more: http://www.ecubesystems.com/nxtera_LM.html

About eCube Systems

eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies turn to eCube Systems to reduce risk, extend ROI, and increase productivity as they consolidate existing capabilities and evolve legacy systems to contemporary SOA platforms.

eCube Systems, LLC, is headquartered in Montgomery, Texas with marketing offices in Boston, MA and R&D in Montreal, Canada. For more information, visit us at http://www.ecubesystems.com/Contact.html

The Future of OpenVMS at Your Company

Last year, HP announced that it was licensing OpenVMS to VMS Software. The announcement, which eliminated some of the uncertainty in the OpenVMS industry, ensures that OpenVMS will continue to be supported and improved.

As part of our OpenVMS survey, we asked respondents if HP’s licensing of OpenVMS to VMS Software had any impact on the future of OpenVMS at their company. 47% said yes and 53% said no.

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Additionally, 85% said the announcement alleviated most of their concerns about the future of OpenVMS.

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What do you think? Did the announcement have any impact in your company? Did the announcement alleviate or raise any concerns about the future of OpenVMS?

We are writing a white paper about the survey results.  Sign up to receive a copy via email.