OpenVMS in The Cloud

The OpenVMS and Cloud world have long been seen as very different and not made for each other.
Where OpenVMS was designed to drive the (proprietary) hardware directly, the Cloud is a more fluid environment and OpenVMS would not be able to cope with that Cloud-software world really easy.

However, under market influence these two worlds will likely have to merge at some point in time. The question to combine them rises more and more often. How to achieve that?

AVTware, having lots of experience running OpenVMS on X86 based platforms, provides a good solution to run OpenVMS in the X86 Cloud. In fact – any – version of OpenVMS, not just the latest one. So, you would be able to transplant your OpenVMS environment from the special (and old) hardware to The Cloud, regardless whether you are running VMS version 8, 7, 6, 5, or even 4!

The AVTware solution creates a dedicated and protected OpenVMS-area inside the Cloud environment wherein you can run your OpenVMS systems without any problem. It is also supporting the special VMS network protocols like DECnet and Cluster traffic that are non-routable and cannot run just like that in the TCP/IP environment of the Cloud (especially not with the older VMS-versions).

This AVT VMS-in-the-Cloud area is protected and encryped, avoiding any interference or evesdropping from anyone else outside this VMS area. Also the network link to your company is encrypted and protected, so no outsiders can get access to it, not even we. To you and your users it will still look like the VMS-systems are still in your computer centre or basement, while they actually run somewhere out there, in the Cloud.

The AVTware solution runs in any Cloud environment and we tested on quite a few across the globe, big ones and small ones, with different technical architectures. However the larger and robuster providers have a preference, were it alone to make sure your OpenVMS environment runs on a sturdy platform, because the application software on OpenVMS is important to your operation.

AVT cooperates closely with Oracle and VMSsoftware to provide Cloud solutions to the OpenVMS community. However, when you have another preferred cloud-provider this will work as well.

AVTware also supports a combination of host platforms. It will run on X86 hardware, any kind of Virtual Machine product (e.g. VMware, KVM, Hyper-V) and any Cloud-solution that you may choose. And it can combine all these host technologies in one installation. The following image shows a situation where such a hybrid host environment is used.

This is a screen-capture of the vtMonitor management interface that on the left-hand side shows a list of different host systems. Resp. a VMware host (Apollo), a physical X86 host (i7) and an Oracle Cloud host, somewhere in the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Each of these hosts runs a single virtual VMS system as matter of example, but there could be many on each of those hosts.

And this is a 3-node VMS-cluster, running across a TCP/IP bound hybrid environment, something that VMS 7.3 was never able to support! With AVTware this can be accomplished quite simply

Please contact us when you like to know more about how to bring your OpenVMS environment to the Cloud,
all without making changes to your existing software.


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AVTware at OpenVMS and Tru64 events

AVTware supports and joins the various OpenVMS en HPE related events across the globe.

We have been sponsoring the OpenVMS Bootcamp in Westford, Massachussetts:

OpenVMS_BootCamp_2017

participated in Oracle Tech Forums throughout USA, Europe and Australia;

as well as HPE Discover in Madrid:

HPE_Discover_2017

Here we meet with Alpha and VAX owners, to help them protect their valuable OpenVMS and Tru64 applications.

When you like to hear more about the options we provide to prolong the life-time of your openVMS and Tru64 software, contact one of our local vtAlpha and vtVAX representatives close to you.

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vtAlpha and vtVAX version 2.11 available

Release 2.11 offers the following new features:

  • Virtual Fibre Channel Adapters allow the sharing of physical Fibre Channel adapters in the Host computer. Virtual Zoning supported.
  • vtAlpha/vtVAX installable and bootable from SAN, allows diskless host systems.
  • Support of the EI1000 Gigabit Ethernet adapter in vtAlpha.
  • Asian Character Support for virtual AlphaStations (Chinese, Japanese, Korean fonts).
  • Management of network License Servers added to the vtMonitor management tool.
  • Dynamic volume expansion added to the management interface.

Contact us for more information about these new features.

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AVT VMSbook: OpenVMS on X86

AlphabookRemember the Alphabook that was released by Tadpole in 1996? The first OpenVMS Notebook, meant for the military market?

A great accomplishment at that time, hope for the future of VMS.
A ruggedized, heavy piece of equipment, (under)powered by an Alpha 21066 chip ( 233 Mhz), 128 MB memory and 1 GB disk.

Great at that time, but massively expensive so it didn’t really fly.

However, with vtAlpha you can make a laptop running OpenVMS only. After pressing the power button it opens up in the VMS session manager where you can log into VMS. How about that?

There is probably not a large market for it (Notebook, vtAlpha and OpenVMS licenses add up to quite a bill). OpenVMS developers who like to have such a gem probably don’t have the money for it.

However it could be done, so we did it, as a Proof of Concept. Not really a product but just for fun. An ordinary HP laptop, with vtAlpha installed and OpenVMS with hobbyist license.

VMSbook

It is on display at the OpenVMS Boot Camp 2015, Sept 28 – 30, Nashua

Visit us in the central Boot Camp Lounge and see for yourself.

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VMSbook: the OpenVMS laptop

A wish of many OpenVMS users is to have a notebook that boots VMS instead of Windows/Linux. Something like that would be really great. Alphabook came the closest, but that product no longer exists. Besides it was heavy and  expensive.

Being present at the OpenVMS Boot Camp we decided to create just that and make it a prize at the Roundhouse dinner for one of the participants to win. We took a run-of-the-mill HP notebook, removed the Windows software and installed the vtAlpha product instead. We put OpenVMS 8.4 on it with a hobbyist license and configured it to boot up in the X-Windows screen for VMS.

Voila: your one and only personal VMSbook.

VMSbook winner Bootcamp 2014

We had it on display during the bootcamp and it drew a crowd. People really wanted to participate in the raffle because they could win this thing.

But there could be only one of course.

Contact us if you want to know more about this.

 

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Mix vtAlpha and vtVAX on the same host

vtAlpha and vtVAX are created/supported by AVTware and Vere Technologies who work in close unison to bring virtualization to OpenVMS and Tru64 users to prolong the lifetime of their software.

vtAlpha started as Bare Metal, running Alpha virtualization without the need of a pre-installed operating system like Windows. vtVAX was originally developed on Windows since there was a high demand for that environment. Now vtVAX is also available in a Bare Metal version, able to run side-by-side with vtAlpha on the same host computer. The vtVAX Windows version remains available, updated and supported.

Mixed vtVAX and vtAlpha Bare Metal

(click on the image to get a larger picture)

This image shows the vtMonitor management interface running a virtual Alpha DS10 and a VAX 4000-105 (marked green in the left hand pane) together on the same host system. The console on the right shows the VAX4000, the left one the DS10.

This shows that the vtVAX and vtAlpha products provide the best integration of virtual VAX and Alpha in the market.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or website to stay abreast of the latest developments in Alpha and VAX virtualization. Or contact us for more information.

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Portable Alpha in the news

OpenVMS Bootcamp 2013, in Bedford MA. An important gathering of openVMS experts from all over the world. Four days full of OpenVMS information exchange and knowledge sharing between the participants. Lecture rooms and hallways buzzing with VMS news and facts.

The OpenVMS operating system and community, 35 years of age and still extremely vivid.

In the evenings there is some time for letting your hair down, although always with a business undercurrent. The Roundhouse is  a very good example. A buffet dinner on one of the evenings where the dining table are combined with information tables where OpenVMS partners are present to discuss matters with the attendees.

This event is traditionally concluded with a raffle where people can win OpenVMS related prizes. AVT and Vere offered a free Alpha on a stick, which was won by David Bartz of Quest Diagnostics. Allowing him to run a virtual DS10 on any x86 computer or virtual machine he can lay his hands on.

vtAlpha Prize winner Bootcamp 2013

Congratulations David!!

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vtAlpha grows the Tru64 and OpenVMS installed base

Tractebel in Brussels, Belgium developed Tru64 and OpenVMS applications for which there is demand outside the current installed base. Using refurbished Alpha hardware for these new installations was not an available option.

Hence they looked at Alpha virtualization that enables them to run the existing Tru64 and OpenVMS software on top of regular x86-type host systems. Multiple Alpha virtualization products were investigated and vtAlpha is their preferred choice.

HP provided the brand new OpenVMS / Tru64 licenses for this installation and everything works like a charm

It shows that with the help of vtAlpha it is still possible to expand the Tru64/OpenVMS customer base, using regular x86 equipment as the host platform.

You too can move your existing Alpha installation to x86-based equipment and prolong its life-time with the help of vtAlpha.

Contact us when you want to know more about this.

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vtAlpha, now with extra Fibre

With version 2.4 vtAlpha gets stronger in two different ways:
– performance increase (appr. 30%)
– the full implementation of virtual FibreChannel support.

You can now connect virtual Alpha’s with a FibreChannel SAN. The principle is simple: first we added support for FibreChannel (hardware) adapters to the vtAlpha host environment (vtAlpha v2.3), allowing you to connect the vtAlpha host to the FibreChannel SAN. As the next step we created the virtual FibreChannel adapter (KGPSA) that you can add to the virtual Alpha configurations you are using.

Image 1 shows the vtAlpha FibreChannel architecture and the capabilities it offers. You have vtAlpha changing your x86 system into an Alpha environment, where in this case you have two virtual Alpha’s running, a virtual ES40 and a virtual AlphaServer 4000. Both virtual Alpha’s have (virtual) KGPSA FibreChannel storage adapters included, like you would have in a hardware Alpha (visualized by the physical DS25 at the right hand side).

vtAlpha includes the drivers that handle the traffic with the FibreChannel adapters (FCA) in the vtAlpha host. Which on their turn are connected to a FibreChannel switch that interconnects all FibreChannel elements in your company storage architecture.

FibreChannel image

This setup leaves all options open for you, from only using the company SAN as a storage provider up to more complex Clusters based on FibreChannel. The latter you can (continue to) organize from your OpenVMS or Tru64 environment.

Image 1 could present a FibreChannel Cluster between two virtual and one physical Alpha (or Integrity, if you like). Or it could be three independent Alpha’s, connected to the Company SAN. Or anything in between.

With the full virtual FibreChannel adapter implementation vtAlpha stands out from all other solutions in the market. vtAlpha does not require any special (and expensive) hardware for the host computer, or a special precautions at the software side.

This is more work for our developers, but it is easier and better for the customers. And a lot less expensive too.

Want to know more? Let us know and click here

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Alpha Security Matters

The Alpha computer was considered more secure and reliable than other environments. For this reason potential customers frowned upon running a virtual Alpha on top of a foreign operating system like Windows or Linux. This is perceived as not reliable/secure enough because the virtual Alpha running on it has in fact no control over that foreign environment.

To maintain the high level of reliability and security of the Alpha computers we designed vtAlpha from the ground up to control the host hardware itself. We refer to this as Bare Metal Installation. This is of course a lot more work for the developer but in the end of the day the results are much better for the customer.

Bare metal

AVTware includes the Operating System Functions and Peripheral Drivers and it fully controls the host environment it runs on. This is important to avoid the security holes of any underlying Operating System.

With AVTware Bare Metal the virtual Alpha itself is well protected, but since it runs in a company network we made sure other inroads are well secured too.

For example the network traffic that allows managing the virtual Alpha configurations as well as the host environment they run in (hardware, storage, network) needs to be protected as well.

By default vtAlpha opens up the following network ports only:

80 HTTP
443 HTTPS
22350 vtAlpha license key
Which you can expand by enabling the following capabilities (disabled by default):
21 FTP
22 SSH
139/445 SMB (files sharing)

Use FTP and SMB wisely, having them active at all times is in fact a potential security risk.

vtAlpha offers extra protection for your console lines (OPA0). The management tool (vtMonitor) is only accessible via user-id/password. Everything is safeguarded by the highest levels of encryption of course. For good security you should always use HTTPS to handle the remote management via vtMonitor, to secure the information exchange between the system manager and the vtAlpha host system.

Contact us when you like to know more about this subject.

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Alpha and VAX Blade systems

During the HP event in Vienna I attended a presentation about HP’s project Odyssey and that looked like a very interesting development to me, especially for the owners of Tru64 and the older OpenVMS systems.

In fact this is a blade concept, supporting Itanium and Intel Xeon processor based blade boards that will be seamlessly integrated in one box.

“And what does that bring me?” you might say as owner of one of these retired Alpha or VAX systems.
When you consider the combination with vtAlpha and vtVAX it can bring you a lot. Your current Alpha and VAX-based systems got a more and more isolated position due to the retired status of that hardware, but now they can be brought back in  a recent and company wide platform, without changing your software.

vtAlpha and vtVAX are thin layers on top of an x86 based host computer creating an Alpha or VAX environment wherein you can run the virtual equivalent of your hardware Alpha or VAX system.Alpha and VAX Blade

It are actually Alpha and VAX hypervisors (or Virtual Machine Managers, if you like) creating multiple Alpha and VAX systems on top of the x86 host. And that x86-host can now be part of the Odyssey infrastructure.

This means that with project Odyssey and vtAlpha/vtVAX you can reunite your older OpenVMS and Tru64 systems with your other, more current Itanium-based, HP-UX, Linux, Non-stop and Integrity/VMS systems on the same platform.

Odyssey, Hypervisors, Virtualization, no this is not an episode of Star Trek. It is a real opportunity to update your retired Alpha and VAX installation to a more modern platform and (re-)combine it with the rest of your IT-infrastructure, with little effort.

Time to beam-up your existing Alpha or VAX installation?

We like to hear your opinion about this subject, Contact us.

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6 Tips for a smooth vtAlpha installation on VMware

Installing vtAlpha on a Virtual Machine host (VMware, KVM, Hyper-V, Xen) requires some extra attention. You have to deal with VM defaults and organizational procedures that are in place. This list helps you to plan ahead and clear obstacles prior to the installation day.

  1. Define sufficient memory. VMware’s default for the virtual machine is 384 MB. vtAlpha requires the size of the virtual Alpha memory +25% + 1 GB.
  2. Virtual CPU definition. Every virtual Alpha CPU needs one host CPU + some overhead. As a rule of thumb we recommend to multiply the number of virtual Alpha CPU’s by 1.5 (and round upwards).
  3. Use DVD for installation. vtAlpha can be installed from DVD or USB stick, but not all virtual machine products or versions support USB. Booting a virtual machine from a USB-stick is often prohibited at all. Therefore we recommend to use DVD or an .iso image of that DVD to connect to the virtual machine and boot from that virtual DVD device. When using an iso-image make sure to deactivate the “connect to DVD at power on” or switch the VM settings back to physical DVD connect after installation, otherwise it will start the installation cycle again at next boot
  4. Ensure you have N+1 Ethernet adapters available in your virtual machine.  N for the number of adapters you need in your virtual Alpha(s) and 1 extra to manage the vtAlpha host.
  5. Preparation meetings. Other than installing on a physical machine where you are in more direct control of the host system and have direct access to it, virtual machine environments require more careful planning and preparation. You have likely no access to the physical host of the virtual machine and you have to honor the (sometimes very strict) policies and procedures regarding network access and authorizations. We recommend to discuss the vtAlpha installation and requirements with the virtual machine managers before installation.
  6. Ensure you have defined sufficient storage space: 20 GB + amount of GB for the data from the physical Alpha(s). Create a separate 20 GB disk wherein you install vtAlpha and keep it separate from your data disks. This way you can always upgrade or reinstall vtAlpha without affecting the Alpha data storage.

These suggestions also apply for vtAlpha installations on other Virtual Machine products.

We welcome other recommendations that make life easier.

The AVTware team.

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