Eddie Orcutt Interview

eCube’s Interview with Eddie Orcutt

Eddie

eCube Systems is interviewing Eddie Orcutt, Vice President Software Engineering at VMS Software, Inc.  Eddie was a long time employee of Hewlett Packard/Compaq/Digital Equipment Corporation where he held field engineering positions for 23 years.  Eddie was the person who approached HP with the idea that a company could take over development and support of OpenVMS.

eCube: Thank you for giving us some of your valuable time for this interview. You are very well known in the OpenVMS community and I am sure everyone knows, you started the ball rolling to start VMS Software and getting the software team together. How is it going so far?

Answer: Thank you Kevin, it is always great to meet with you and eCube to talk about OpenVMS.  It is going very well.  Since our inception 2 years ago, VSI has delivered 2 OpenVMS releases, V8.4-1H1 and V8.4-2, with a soon to be 3rd release planned for July/August 2016.  This does not include the 34 BOE products, 6 HAOE products, 23 layered products, and 9 Open Source products that have also been released.   We are well on our way of porting OpenVMS to X86, which as you know, is a multi year effort.  We are also actively recruiting ISV partners for supporting their application(s) on OpenVMS and we have started our hardware certification lab, for certifying 3rd party hardware, to make OpenVMS even more multivendor capable.

As you can tell, we are very busy adding new functionality, enhancing stability and ensuring the continued high security and availability of OpenVMS and associated products in addition to building the application base and multivendor hardware base to satisfy existing and future customer’s computing requirements.

 

eCube:  Let’s start with following up on Sue Skonetski’s interview in March. She deferred some of the more technical questions in our previous interview to you and engineering, so I’d like to start with VSI’s technical expertise. Can you tell me about your engineering team and if you think your team can stack up against the major OS vendors that are currently out there?

Answer:  Yes, VSI has a world class OS development team.  Some of our software engineers are the original developers of OpenVMS.  We average 25+ years of operating system development experience, mostly in OpenVMS.  In addition a number of software engineers also have experience in UNIX and/or Linux development.  This cross OS experience allows us a unique look into these operating systems, giving us ideas on how OpenVMS can incorporate other technologies within our framework of high security and availability.  Another aspect of operating system development not mentioned is our QTV (Quality, Test, Validation) capabilities.  VSI takes a “mindful approach” to testing validation and qualification where we follow practices and methods developed and honed over the past 30+ years including the IEEE 730 standard.  Our test suite, run daily, includes User Environment Test Package, Cluster Test Manager, System Integration Test Package, Faulty Towers, Alignment Tests, and Regression suites.  In all we put OpenVMS through over 3000 different tests.  These test suites are enhanced and expanded as new features and functionality are added to OpenVMS. It is our attention to quality that helps set OpenVMS apart from other operating systems.

 

 

 

eCube:  Sue also mentioned planned enhancement to the OpenVMS filesystem; can you tell us about VSI’s plans in this area?

Answer:  We are in the process of developing an advanced file system on OpenVMS.  The new advanced file system will eliminate the 32-bit boundaries, 2TB volume and file limit, in addition to addressing some performance limitations of the current file system.  The advanced file system is 64-bit based, which provides Exabyte scalability, about 2x file create/delete performance improvements, about 2x file open/read/write performance improvements for small files.  It solves the performance problem of deleting directories with a large number of files and provides for easier manageability since customers will be able to create fewer larger volumes instead of creating large multivolume bound sets.

 

 

eCube:  For many years HP didn’t seem to promote the virtues of OpenVMS and instead favored NonStop. After all those years, what are the challenges now and how do you think VSI needs to address them or do differently?

Answer:  OpenVMS is VSI’s only product and hence is our only focus.  Our organization is centered around OpenVMS from product development, testing, support, professional services, marketing to sales.  A major goal is to let everyone, not just our OpenVMS installed base, but the computing market as a whole know that there is a highly secure, highly available and high quality operating system option, namely OpenVMS.  The OpenVMS competitive advantages allow customers, old and new, to realize huge savings in operational costs during the lifecycle of their system in addition to reducing their security vulnerability risk by up to 81X (that’s 8,100 %), which reduces the chance of a break-in or a data breach and its associated costs.  Our job is to get the technical advantages and the business advantages of OpenVMS out to the market.  How do we do that? We have a multi-prong plan going forward to:

  1. Issue regular press releases on OpenVMS’ competitive advantages to increase awareness.
  2. Release White Papers to industry sources outlining OpenVMS’ advantages and how using OpenVMS actually reduces costs.
  3. Publicize our Integrity and X86-64 migration plan for VAX and older Alpha architectures.
  4. Engage our existing installed base to realize even more competitive advantages over Linux and Windows.
  5. Provide Open Source interoperability with Linux and Windows to tout OpenVMS costs, security and availability advantages.
  6. Make porting Linux/Windows applications to OpenVMS more seamless, which ties in to the next point.
  7. Work with our ISVs to increase the number of commercially available applications available on OpenVMS.

 

 

eCube: OpenVMS is often viewed as a legacy OS that does not support modern features by neophytes or upper management. What do you say to that? Maybe you can give us a quick history lesson on the major innovations of VMS and its virtues that differentiate it compared to contemporary Operating Systems in use today?

Answer:  Well, technically speaking, “legacy OS” just means it is in production mode currently. By that measure, Windows, Linux and Unix are all legacy systems; some are better designed than others. Unfortunately, “legacy” also denotes a connotation of being buggy, out-dated, antiquated or incapable of modern performance. That is not the case here. OpenVMS is far from antiquated as OpenVMS is run in the most demanding environments that require a high degree of security, availability and disaster tolerance.  You find OpenVMS systems around the world in banks, stock exchanges, healthcare, oil and gas production and distribution, power stations, railways, governments and so on.  One of the features of OpenVMS, that provides a buffer to becoming legacy, is forwards and backwards compatibility.  This means a customer can take an application that was originally built on OpenVMS V8.2 Integrity and they can run it unmodified on a VSI OpenVMS V8.4-2 Integrity system.  The reason is OpenVMS provides binary compatibility between older versions and the latest versions on Integrity.  In addition, a customer can take the latest release of VSI OpenVMS and run it on old Itanium server models. This is unique with OpenVMS, as commodity operating systems do not provide this level of investment protection.

OpenVMS has built-in enterprise class system management tools, rather than having to purchase add-ons.  It has a rich development environment, which includes programming languages, debug facilities, run time libraries and system service routines for taking advantage of the enterprise level capabilities of OpenVMS.  These features combine to reduce the complexity of applications.  Applications developers can focus on the application alone and not worry about having to account for security or high availability capability.  OpenVMS provides these services automatically.  OpenVMS also provides a calling standard that allows programs written in one language to call a program written in another 3G language.  This greatly improves application portability and code debugging which reduces development costs.

OpenVMS includes stable versions of commonly used Open Source software such as Java, Python, Perl, Lua, Apache, cURL, XML, Ruby, git, Subversion, ZeroMQ and etc.

OpenVMS is the standard by which all other “cluster” solutions are measured. OpenVMS clusters provide an active – active shared everything cluster environment where applications on different nodes in the cluster can share the same disks, local or on a shared interconnect, and can also share the same files and the records within the files.  This saves infrastructure costs, as peripheral devices and their resources can be shared across all nodes of an OpenVMS cluster.   Commodity operating systems cannot do this.

OpenVMS has unsurpassed security mechanisms that are built into OpenVMS and not added or layered on as with commodity operating systems.  A proof point of the OpenVMS advantage is that OpenVMS has an average, over its 39-year history, of 1.03 security vulnerabilities per year where commodity operating system vulnerabilities average in the hundreds.  This alone is a game changer in terms of total cost of ownership and one of the reasons OpenVMS can provide 5 nines of availability when appropriately configured.

 

 

 

eCube:  Wow – that is impressive. One of the things we hear is that OpenVMS clients say their upper management isn’t willing to spend money on OpenVMS since the HPE announcement, and yet some are willingly spending hundreds of thousands to migrate to Linux. What can change that dynamic?

Answer:  Number one is that VSI had to prove itself in having the expertise and ability to develop, release and support new versions of OpenVMS.  We have done that.  Number two, as previously stated, is to make the market aware that there is a highly secure, highly available and high quality operating system option; OpenVMS.  The competitive advantages OpenVMS provides is a game changer in the operational lifecycle costs, 50% less expensive than competitive products and is 81X less likely to be infected with a virus or to have a break-in or a data breach.  These are real tangible risk reduction OpenVMS features and it offers a huge cost advantage.  Our job is to get this message out to the market.  We, as OpenVMS professionals need to shed that complacency that comes with taking OpenVMS advantages for granted. We need to inform other IT professionals, managers and organizations that these features are a minimum requisite for safe and reliable computing for the future.

 

 

eCube: What changes when OpenVMS is supported on the X86/64 platform?

Answer:  OpenVMS is OpenVMS whether it is on Integrity or X86.  Having said that, there are features we are putting in OpenVMS to make it scale to support larger core and larger memory x86 systems.  In addition we plan to support OpenVMS on a virtual machine like Xen, KVM and/or VMware.  With the introduction of new X86 platform support for OpenVMS, we will support a wider array of I/O options that are available.

 

 

eCube: We keep hearing that one of the options available to OpenVMS customers is to migrate to Linux. How does Linux compare head to head with OpenVMS in total cost of ownership, performance, compilers, hardware compatibility and functionality?

Answer:  Not very well.  I’ve mentioned previously that OpenVMS has the lowest total cost of ownership of any commonly used OS on the market.  The OpenVMS cost advantages are not just a few percentage points but by 50% better than the competition.  Windows and Linux systems not only cost significantly more to operate than OpenVMS, but the risk of infection and a data breach is significantly increased by 81 times on those other platforms.

OpenVMS performance on the Integrity Poulson (HPE i4 server line) is very good.  Integer and floating point performance is 20% – 57% better, model dependent, than on previous server models.  Memory performance is 2X faster and Oracle 11g performance, compared to Oracle 10G, is 10X faster on newer i4 servers running VSI OpenVMS than on previous server models.

OpenVMS has a range of commonly used Open Source languages available, like R, RUST, Erlang, Lua, Python, Ruby, Perl, etc. in addition to third generation languages like ADA, BASIC, C, C++, COBOL, Fortran, Pascal, Bliss and macro.

 

eCube:  The other hardware vendors (HP, IBM and Oracle) seem to be jettisoning their proprietary versions of UNIX in favor of Linux. Why would a company want to stay with OpenVMS and not follow this trend?

Answer:  Great question Kevin.  The answer is because OpenVMS provides real tangible benefits to the customer in terms of significantly lower costs of ownership, (over 5 years, the typical mission critical system lifecycle), significant reduction in the risk of security vulnerabilities (by 81X), reduced risk of a data breach, reduced staffing costs due to reduced OpenVMS security patch rate, 5 nines of availability (99.999%) and business continuity support.

OpenVMS was designed to be crash proof and virus proof.  OpenVMS “firewalls” system components to limit the impact of a bug, it isolates trusted system code from untrusted user code.  It does this by using 4 access modes (kernel, executive, supervisor and user), using a descriptor (a data structure) for passing data between OpenVMS modes and providing fine grain privilege levels (39) to name a few.  There are over 54 technical features in OpenVMS that provide OpenVMS its competitive advantage in the market.

It is these unique OpenVMS features and benefits that companies are trying to build by layering various point solutions on to Linux, however it is the deficiencies in the OS itself that diminishes its effectiveness.  With OpenVMS, these features are built in to the OS.

 

eCube: Can you mention the White Paper on the comparison between OpenVMS, Linux and Windows on Operating Systems maintenance. Can you give us the highlights of that paper?

Answer:  That paper and its follow-on presentation focus on the cost of security for operating systems most commonly used (Linux and Microsoft Windows) in comparison to OpenVMS.  These other operating systems are woefully short of providing a stable, highly available or a secure environment for data that must be available 24×7 and secured.  These commonly used operating systems today may have the lowest initial costs, but their total cost of ownership is the highest.  The OpenVMS advantages include:

 

  • Reduced OS security patch rate by >10X
  • Reduced daily OS security vulnerabilities by 66X – 81X
  • Reduced yearly per system OS patch costs by ~30X
  • Reduced system management costs by 20% – 60%
  • Reduced yearly & 5 year lifecycle operational costs by 70% – 90%
  • Reduced wasted system management time by 12X – 15X
  • Reduced TCO by 44% – 50% (1.78X-2.0X OpenVMS systems for 1 Microsoft Windows/Linux)
  • Reduced data breaches (at the OS level) and their associated costs

 

eCube: With the constant pressure from the business people to change the business logic, enterprise developers are using Agile Development and Agile Infrastructure on Linux systems to roll out new versions quicker.  How can OpenVMS keep up with Linux in this area?

Answer:  By offering multiple ways to develop code on OpenVMS to fit the particular needs of a developer.  The goal is to make the developer as efficient in development as possible.  For more experienced developers, OpenVMS has a rich set of editors like EDT, EVE and EMACS accessible through a GUI or a text terminal interface.  OpenVMS also has a language sensitive editor with other tools for source code profiling and performance and coverage analyzing.

Kevin, as you know, for the more windows oriented developers and agile development environments, OpenVMS has partnered with eCube Systems for including NXTware Remote, a modern cross-platform Eclipsed based IDE.  NXTware remote, which is included in the OpenVMS software distribution kit for customer convenience, brings remote agile development and continuous delivery capability to OpenVMS.  This simplifies remote development for multiple languages like BASIC, C, C++, COBOL, Fortran, Java, Pascal, and even scripting languages like DCL, TDF, IFDL, GDF, as well as SQL and SQLMOD.

 

 

eCube: OpenVMS has tackled integration with Open Source tools many years ago with tools like GNV and WSIT. What are the plans for Open Source in OpenVMS in the future?

Answer:  VSI is expanding the role and reach of Open Source software in OpenVMS environments.  VSI is actively updating the versions of Open Source software supported on OpenVMS in addition to porting Open Source software that is new to OpenVMS as well.  To make it easier for VSI and our Open Source community to port software to OpenVMS, we are updating the C run-time library to make porting UNIX/Linux based software to OpenVMS easier and more transparent.  VSI has also provided direct access to git and Subversion, Open Source repositories, making it easier to build and support Open Source software on OpenVMS.

 

 

eCube: Oracle is releasing Java 1.9 this year and Java 1.7 will go into maintenance mode. Since OpenVMS on Integrity only supports Java 1.6, what are the plans to support new Java platforms in the future?

Answer:  VSI is in the process of porting Java 1.8 to OpenVMS.  We expect to release in the Q4 calendar year 2016 to Q1 calendar year 2017 timeframe.  We are also providing newer versions of Java related products.

 

 

eCube: What about modernization tools? Can modernizing the development environment help OpenVMS grow in the future?

Answer:  Yes, it can definitely help.  VSI has put together a series of training classes for customers and our ISV partners that develop applications for OpenVMS, to not only introduce them to modern tools but to make them proficient on OpenVMS using these modern tools.  Modern tools allow developers to code from their local desktop device where they can compile, debug and deploy the application on remote OpenVMS systems.  The advantage of using modern tools is reduced development and support time, which saves development costs.

 

 

eCube: What are the obstacles that VMS Software faces down the road and how can that be resolved?

Answer:  Complacency in the market place, meaning that customers will continue to use lowest common denominator operating systems in terms of security, availability and total cost of ownership.  VSI OpenVMS is a better and lower cost solution.  Our job is to get the word out to customers so they can make a more informed decision.

 

 

 eCube: OpenVMS is extremely stable and durable platform. In today’s market where young kids hack together operating systems with no regard to memory, CPU or IO usage, are these features of OpenVMS an advantage or disadvantage?

Answer:   There is a price to pay on commodity systems, in terms of speed and efficiency, when you waste CPU and memory and it becomes apparent when you have large-scale applications.  OpenVMS has huge competitive advantages in terms of security, availability and total cost of ownership, which all users of computers desire whether you are a corporate entity or young kids looking for an application development platform.  The disadvantage is that people forget what they have, the function it is performing and why they have it.  OpenVMS is truly lights out computing where OpenVMS systems receive little attention, due to its inherent high availability and security features.

VMS Software, Inc. Bundles Agile Development Environment with Latest Release of OpenVMS Operating System

VMS Software, Inc. includes eCube’s NXTware development software as part of the OpenVMS 8.4-2 media kit.

VMS Software, Inc. (VSI) today announced the worldwide availability of eCube System’s (eCube) NXTware Remote Server and Client software as part of the software media kit for VSI’s newly released OpenVMS Version 8.4-2 (Maynard Release) operating system for HPE Integrity servers. This initiative continues VSI’s commitment to modernizing the OpenVMS platform, by availing the OpenVMS development community of leading edge, OpenVMS 3GL and Java Remote development tools, based on the Eclipse IDE client, with distributed services on OpenVMS.

“We are thrilled with our alliance with eCube,” said Duane P. Harris, CEO of VMS Software. “The bundling of their best-of-breed software development environment is a major boon to the entire community of OpenVMS developers. It means added flexibility for experienced OpenVMS veterans, while lowering the barrier to entry for newer developers who are more comfortable developing in a GUI environment. For our customers, adopting an agile development environment will lower the cost of development and reduce time to market. It’s a win for the entire platform.”

Both VSI and eCube are dedicated to the long-term future and viability of the OpenVMS platform. In support of this commitment, eCube, the leading provider of modern development tools and best practices for Continuous Delivery on OpenVMS, has agreed to align its offerings with VSI’s new releases of OpenVMS on modern chipsets, including x86-64.

“eCube Systems and its clients are pleased to see that the future of OpenVMS is being handled with such a progressive and dynamic fashion,” says Peter John Marquez, EVP at eCube Systems. “Organizations that run strategic applications on OpenVMS now have long-term options they can build business plans around. We look forward to working with our clients and VMS Software, Inc., to deliver powerful, secure and easily maintainable enterprise solutions.”

NXTware Remote, eCube’s modern Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment, provides developers the tools to simplify and integrate their software engineering. It will be certified to work with all new releases of VSI’s OpenVMS. The IDE’s suite of tools and best practices for Continuous Delivery, which automates much of the development process on OpenVMS, will leverage eCube’s close relationship with VSI to ensure users get the most out of their OpenVMS investment.

To aid OpenVMS developers in the adoption of an Agile Development Environment, eCube is offering a jumpstart program. The program will help customers evaluate and deploy NXTware Remote for their OpenVMS development needs. Find out more information at: http://ecubesystems.com/promos/jumpstart.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, go to http://www.ecubesystems.com.

eCube Systems
ecube.sales(at)ecubesystems(dot)com
866-493-4224

About VMS Software, Inc.
VMS Software, Inc. develops, sells and supports innovative and advanced releases of OpenVMS, the most secure operating system on the planet. The company’s core motivation is to support and enable customers to run their mission critical applications at the legendary uptime levels OpenVMS is known for, at maximum performance levels, today and into the future. VMS Software Inc. is headquartered in Bolton, MA. For more information, go to http://www.vmssoftware.com

VMS Software, Inc.
pr(at)vmssoftware(dot)com
978-451-0110

eCube’s interview with Sue Skonetski

Featured

sue skonetski interview

eCube Systems is interviewing Sue Skonetski, Customer Advocate with VMS Software, Inc. Sue was a long time employee of Hewlett Packard/Compaq/Digital Equipment Corporation and held a similar job for 25 years. Sue knows the OpenVMS community quite well and is very attuned to their needs and the future of the OpenVMS operating system.

eCube: Thank you for giving us some of your valuable time for this interview. You are most likely the most famous person in the OpenVMS community; everyone knows you. How does it feel to be part of such a vibrant technical community?

Answer: Thank you Kevin, It is a pleasure to talk with eCube. I am not sure about famous but I am fortunate that the community has included me. And yes it is absolutely a wonderful feeling to be associated with some of the most intelligent people in the World!  The VMS community is a very loyal, diverse, and passionate community I can honestly say that I really love this group.  Every day I am thankful that I have the best job in the world.  I am able to work with the VMS Customers, Partners and Engineers and those who sell and support VMS.  It really is an honor to be part of the VMS Community.

eCube: Since VMS Software Inc. launched in May of 2014, there have been a lot of expectations that this event would signal the renaissance of OpenVMS. You are right in the middle of this effort – how do you see this happening?

Answer:  I am seeing so much in interest in VMS of course from our valuable installed base but also from new customers and partners.  I think one of the major draws is the fact that we have solid long range plans for VMS.  What the team is doing now will affect our future as well not just on Integrity platforms but other hardware platforms in the future.  I see this not only as a solid future for VMS but a game changer in Mission Critical and Secure computing environments.  VSI has a roadmap that goes far into the future. Part of this strategy includes significant enhancements to VMS and a port to x86.  We already have an R&D team working on this port and we see advancement every week. In order for VMS to compete as a platform going forward, we can’t be satisfied with the niche we have; we have to aspire to be a mainstream Mission Critical and Secure operating system on a variety of hardware.  We need to embrace newer kinds of systems that are sometimes foreign to us. This means we as a community need to adopt new ways of computing, newer languages like Java, expand support for important languages like JavaScript and Python, and new development techniques like NOSQL. The combination of these capabilities and the platform’s existing strengths will attract new users and use cases, enabling future growth. . We have to enrich the platform to make way for the VMS generation that follows us.

2 examples of new customers

  1. VSI has partnered with a brand new company (Stark Gaming). This is an amazing story since this is an entire new concept around online gaming and they chose VMS. Here is the URL; I promise it is worth your time.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vms-software-partners-with-stark-gaming-to-create-revolutionary-online-gaming-and-esport-server-infrastructure-300122431.html?tc=eml_cleartime

  1. I received a phone call from a gentleman that was a customer in local government. He said that he would like to talk to VSI about VMS. So I asked him what kind of VMS environment he was currently using.  His response was “none”. They needed to upgrade their environment and he researched what operating system was the most secure and reliable and decided that VMS running HP i4 systems was the best solution for their needs

eCube:  Some say that the VSI announcement came too late and companies already started plans to migrate away from OpenVMS since HP announced their end of life plan for OpenVMS. What do you think the risks are? What do we say to those that say VMS is in inevitable decline?

Answer: Well, only time will tell; however, on the day we announced VSI and the future development of VMS, I heard from many of the VMS Customers who, on that day, put their migration plans on hold. When customers take a serious look at leaving VMS it can be a huge task. Over the years, customers have become dependent on the performance, reliability, availability and security and of course the clustering that VMS offers. They have built their infrastructure around the knowledge that VMS gives them this.  Customers depend on their VMS environment to always be up, to automatically fail over and not be hacked. And while there are very few labs with only one vendor I am really pleased to see so many customers have realized migrating to another operating system is so risky and you may not get the same benefit you enjoy with VMS.  As an example when VMS was originally developed, 38 years ago, continuing until today security was written into the multiple layers of VMS.  This means that security is not a layered product or an application you add to VMS, it is part of the design of VMS; secure, stable and highly resistant to malicious attacks.  Our customers can depend on this and in fact many customers have up time in the double digit years, and they are proud of this and so are we.

So let’s talk about the challenges in VMS, because that is our next opportunity. In the last 24 years VMS only had three major issues

  1. Lack of strategic support from the parent corporation – As time went on VMS was no longer considered strategic with each merger reducing that commitment to strategic direction. With VSI, VMS is not only strategic to us, it is our raision d’etre and is essential for our continued growth as a company; so needless to say, this problem has been resolved.
  2. New blood in the VMS space in both the systems and applications areas. In the systems area, one of the things that I have noticed is that there are two mind sets here.  The first being that companies want to pay for junior engineers and train them on VMS vs. recruiting experienced VMS people. The first option is attractive to those who have senior staff today and are willing to train for an extended time. Other options include developing your own training program either internally or with the help of companies like CDL in the UK that has developed a process to bring in junior people and have the senior folks mentor and train. For those willing to learn the OS, VSI  offers a complete training program with a large portfolio of training classes, and I have been surprised at how many VMS novices are taking VMS training (local to Bolton MA or remote).

On the application side, eCube Systems has an excellent approach to solving this problem with their product suite designed to help non-VMS developers remotely develop on VMS with Eclipse (an Open Source  tool college students are familiar with) on their workstation aided by NXTware Remote.

  1. This is a tie between more applications and a new file system. First, let’s focus on the issue of a lack of new applications on VMS. This is the area where we need the most help: we need new applications to replace those which over the course of time have become obsolete or are retired. When VMS was a part of HP, there were about 5,000 applications from approximately. 2,000 vendors running on VMS which is a significant amount. That amount is likely to change in the coming years as customers migrate away or the applications age or are no longer needed. Our existing applications need to be made more agile and we need to adopt Continuous Delivery like the mainstream computing world does. We need partners to fill in those gaps in functionality and support where possible and make VMS more modern. VSI is talking to partners every day to make sure they are still committed to their VMS products. We have been able to talk to some and get them re-engaged.  Going forward, support of older applications will be no problem for new versions of VMS because binary compatibility will still be supported.

Regarding the file system, I am not an engineer, but I do know that customers have requested a larger file systems for some time now.  If you want to know more about what we are doing in this area, I’ll refer your request to engineering. I do know that at VSI this is on our priority to-do list for engineering.

eCube:  What do you see as the future of OpenVMS going forward?

Answer:  Whew this is a tough one.  Let me think about this. If you look at our existing customer base – based on what we have seen so far I think that these customers are still committed to VMS and they want to see VMS and VSI succeed.  I do see a great potential for an expanded customer base on Integrity systems and especially as VMS becomes available on x86.  Prior to x86 we need to prove that VSI can deliver a VMS product that customers and ISV’s have come to respect.

If you want more information on our technical prowess, you should talk with Eddie Orcutt. He is the largely the reason VSI is here now. Eddie knows the talent we have and has the technical knowledge of where we are and what our vision is for the future. That would make an interesting follow up interview, don’t you think?

In my opinion, I think the key to our future is how we can leverage the existing customer base’s needs and grow VMS into areas of new technology. If VMS can adopt new software development techniques, integrate Open Source products and the latest technology, I think we could compete with anybody. Imagine if we could support mainframe, mid-range, desktop, laptop and mobile platforms – then companies could turn to us for their new technology products. We need that for us to flourish; we need to start thinking that way.  It is important to the VMS community’s future for all of use to work to grow the platform base.

eCube: What can the community do to enhance and extend the life of OpenVMS?

Answer: Come to the 2016 Connect VMS Boot Camp the last week in September at the Radisson in Nashua, NH and commit to having the most up to date OpenVMS environment.

Talk to everyone about the value of VMS.  Share success stories with VSI.

Become involved with the VSI Social Media sites.

Sign up for the VMS SIG

Let your company be aware of your VMS uptime and how much value that is to them.  Sometimes I think that because VMS works so well management forgets about the value VMS provides.  If you are working with VMS it is on a mission critical system you need to be proud of that.

If there is a problem it’s better to address it sooner than later, let us know quickly.

Based on the experiences over the last few years, it’s important to not give up. Ever!

eCube: There have been some concerns from the user community and vendors that VSI hasn’t done enough to market OpenVMS since the announcement. What can VMS Software do better to promote OpenVMS?

Answer:  Yes, I have heard that too. We do understand that folks may feel this way and we are going to address it. Our CEO, Duane Harris has outlined a plan of continuous press releases to raise the awareness of OpenVMS and share with the world our progress as it happens. We are working with eCube and other vendors to increase awareness and provide content. If you have contacts with media outlets that could promote our message, please contact VSI and let us know.

Let me also re-iterate the work we have done to get us to this point: .

The first and foremost is that we have been focused on developing a product that meets the VMS customer’s expectations and achieve the goals of sustainability and feature growth.

The second is the team members that are not working in engineering are focused on developing a relationships with the customers and partners focusing on their needs to the exclusion of everything else. If you are reading this and think you can help, have input for press releases, publishing success stories, or just haven’t heard from us lately, contact me and we will bring you up to speed on what we want to do and where we are going.

eCube: What is the biggest problem in the OpenVMS community?

I see two main problems:

  1. Negative Apathy – What I mean by Negative Apathy is that many in the community do not want to get involved unless it’s a negative situation. In this day and age of constant change, we need to be pro-active in our actions with building enterprise systems on VMS.
  2. Fear of the Unknown – it is easy to get comfortable with the knowledge you have acquired using VMS and its powerful, leading edge computing environment. Learning how to reach the newer generation is critical to our survival; we have to bridge the gap between the new engineers out of school who don’t know anything about this platform and the highly skilled analysts I know we have in this community. It is up to us to bridge that gap because the newbies just out of college won’t.

eCube: How can we solve it?

Well, there are many problems we can solve, but VMS Software can’t address every problem that has occurred in the history of VMS (3 major ports, 3 mergers, countless databases and reorganizations) in a year or two. First, we need time and help from the community to determine what problems are a priority to address first. Part of that is realizing the magnitude of the work ahead of us and the limited time we have. Next, we need your help to promote VMS; we need folks to talk about VMS on social media, share their success stories on the web or do press releases articles and post articles like this that eCube is doing.  And if you have a lead please forward it to us, we will follow up.  If you are part of a Connect LUG please go to their meetings.  If you need to meet with the people at VSI just let us know.

eCube: What about modernization tools? Can modernizing the development environment put OpenVMS back up with mainstream OSes?

Answer:  Absolutely, modernization tools are critical to the successful evolution of VMS and the success of the VMS community.  VMS has to be an equal player on the enterprise stage with unfettered integration points to other systems. As technology advances we need to focus on leading edge tools that enable folks to work on VMS without having to know the OS. We have to realize that our future lies with those that may not have such a rich VMS heritage.  This is especially true of college new hires that have no VMS knowledge and need an effective way to develop software with VMS.

eCube: What do you say to Senior OpenVMS programmers and analysts who are concerned for their job security when upper management wants a modernization plan?

Answer: Once again a two part answer.

Modernization tools for VMS developers are one of the best things that can happen for your career.  While there is a learning curve, this will ultimately make your job easier: this will allow you to collaborate with developers in other areas of the company, to expand the breadth of your knowledge in two critical areas, while providing valuable knowledge to junior engineers who can now perform the entry level tasks of maintaining the code, recompiling and testing and ensuring the long term survival of VMS and what it represents.  Embracing and learning this hybrid system will allow your company to bring in new people who can immediately start work on VMS vs. moving off of VMS because they cannot find new VMS developers or it takes too long to train new ones. This will allow for the development of new products on VMS which I see as being pivotal to moving ahead into the future.

Secondly, don’t fear for your job; you are a precious commodity in VMS and we need you to learn the modern ways to develop, integrate and operate these new applications using newer technology on VMS. We need your experience with VMS to make these interfaces even better. Your knowledge of the OS can help the newbies understand the rich computing environment VMS brings to the table (clustering, automation, failover, security, etc.). You will be needed more than ever and your job importance will more than double your worth to your company.

Lastly, think about this: what kind of legacy do you want your career to embody when you retire? Is it after 30 years, you retire with no one to take your place and your boss can’t find anyone else who knows VMS, so he hires a bunch of consultants to migrate your system to SAP or Windows?

Or, do you want to leave an active, growing VMS system in good health with a staff of highly trained engineers knowing not only VMS, but the understanding the latest development techniques and new technology that will take your systems well into the future?

 

Next Up: an interview with Eddie Orcutt