Don't Forget Alpha

Thanks for the coverage of the VAX and VMS community, which tends to be ignored these days, and for the positive words about the future of VMS on Itanium. Too many people mistakenly think VMS died long ago.

But I'm amazed that the article ["VAX Users See the Writing on the Wall," QuickLink 47934] never mentioned Alpha. The path of least resistance (and least expense) for most VAX users has been to retain their existing software and migrate to newer Alpha hardware, still running the VMS operating system. In most cases, it's been "recompile, relink and go" for their programs, but in cases where source code has been lost, the VEST utility is used to convert a VAX binary image to an Alpha one.

Some VAX users may choose to move straight from VAX to Itanium, skipping Alpha entirely. But HP still develops and sells Alpha systems (and will through at least 2006) and will support them for a minimum of five years after last sale, whenever that occurs. For most VAX users, moving to Windows, Unix or Linux involves very costly code rewrites or wholesale replacement of applications, and they tend to find that those platforms don't provide the stability, reliability, high availability, security (there are no viruses on VMS, for example), low system administrator workload and low TCO that they have become accustomed to with VMS. So for most VAX users today, sticking with VMS and simply moving to newer hardware (including Alpha) is the lowest-cost, lowest-effort and least-risky option to consider.

Keith Parris

Colorado Springs

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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