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.

AVTware version 3.2 available

Version 3.2 of vtAlpha/vtVAX virtualization solution offers the following enhancements:

  • Start-up of a virtual Alpha stops when detected that one of the configured console port-numbers is already allocated by another emulator.
  • Virtual tapes for vtAlpha now supports the use of sub-directories
  • MOP v3 and MOP v4 network boot now supported in vtAlpha
  • Allocation of JIT-pages by vtAlpha is now completely auto-tuned, manual option is eliminated
  • Virtual tape autoload and tape format options added in TapeMGR for vtVAX
  • Latest security updates applied
  • Full HTTPS access implemented
  • Embedded webserver now refuses DES ciphers
  • Support for LK463 French keyboard added

Ask your personal virtual Alpha and VAX expertise center for more information or contact us directly.

vtAlpha version 3 available

This week we released version 3 of our Alpha and VAX virtualization product. Version 3 contains mainly updates at the vtAlpha side, like increased CPU performance by assigning more resources for Alpha virtualization.

vtAlpha now covers the full range of Alpha computer products, up to the Enterprise Class AlphaServer GS320.

Also added are the virtual equivalents of the EI1000 and DEGXA Gigabit Ethernet adapters that can be found in these bigger Alpha systems.

In version 3 we also introduce a new back-plane for the virtual AlphaServer 2000 and 4000 models to support older OpenVMS and Tru64 releases.

The vtMonitor management interface was modernized as well to support the new functions and reflect the importance of the changes in version 3.

For more information contact your local vtAlpha and vtVAX representative, they will be happy to update you about all the new features.

Virtualizing Alphas without stopping VMS

We recently completed a project to virtualize a large number of AlphaServers which for us is business as usual. However, during the virtualization process they had to be relocated to another site. And all without stopping the applications.

The virtualization was routine, but the non-stop aspect was kind of special. This is how we did it:

The starting point was to replace a number of ES45 clusters in the various regional offices of the customer. They wanted to get rid of the old Alpha hardware and move to more modern and standard equipment (x86). There are only two ways to do that: software migration or Alpha virtualization. First they explored the migration option, which caused major stomach-pains across the board. Virtualization was a much more elegant and less complicated way to achieve their goals.

They looked at the alternatives available and decided for vtAlpha: reliable, secure and fast. With HPE ProLiant Blade systems and 3PAR storage as host hardware. vtAlpha hides the architectural differences of the new host environment from the existing Alpha based software. This way they could use a modern 3PAR SAN, even though that isn’t supported by their OpenVMS version.

From big Alpha to smaller X86 with vtAlpha

As mentioned, the virtualization part is easy: install vtAlpha, copy the Alpha disk content to the new hosts, boot from the copied disks and continue to work. However, the regional systems were to be relocated to sites that were about 30 – 50 miles away and everything had to be done without stopping the applications. The customer operation had to continue, a non-stop transition!

The combination of vtAlpha and OpenVMS clustering allowed us to pull this off.

First, we installed vtAlpha on the (centralized) host system and created virtual equivalents of the AlphaServers to replace. Next we set up a (long-distance) network and FibreChannel link to marry the regional AlphaServers with the central virtual Alpha(s) in a cluster. The OpenVMS shadowing ensured the data was synchronized to the vtAlpha systems. When all data was duplicated, the regional cluster members were turned off and the vtAlpha cluster continued the operation.

We used HPE Fibre Channel over IP devices to ensure high data transfer speed levels during the shadowing operation, to avoid that user access during that operation would become sluggish because of the distance/latency. After all, an OpenVMS shadow disk operation is only completed when fully executed on all shadowset members, including the ones far, far away.

After some careful planning it was a smooth transition process that we managed to repeat for all the regional offices. The customer is currently running their operation of a fully virtualized vtAlpha environment without any problems. Another happy vtAlpha customer.

Contact us when you like to hear more about this kind of virtualization projects.

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.


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.

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.


Let’s add another 35 years to OpenVMS

AVTware and Vere Technologies congratulate VMS Software Inc. for successfully negotiating with HP to breathe new life into VMS. The entire VMS community will benefit from their efforts. We look forward to working with VSI to bring new solutions and new life to loyal VMS customers.

OpenVMS and Tru64 Live Host Migration

vtAlpha Alpha virtualization runs Bare Metal (directly on top of the host computer) and on a Virtual Machine (VMware, KVM, Xen, Hyper-V) delivering the broadest choice in host environments.  We even deliver the vtAlpha product as a VM appliance that you can easily import in your VM so you can start using vtAlpha without going through installation and configuration.  Easy does it.

Virtual Machine products can offer live host migration (e.g. VMware vMotion). It allows to migrate a running Virtual Machine from one host computer to another. This is a feature that we like to support and offer to our (virtual) OpenVMS and Tru64 customers for improved resilience. We were pretty sure we could make vtAlpha survive such a live host transition, but what about OpenVMS and Tru64? These were not designed with such functionality in mind, so how would they survive the time lapse that is involved with such a host transition?

We can report that we managed to mask such an event from these older operating systems so any running vtAlpha can be transitioned from one host to another using this VMware capability. We have posted a short video showing such a transition here: vtAlpha host migration.

This capability enables you to build virtual Alpha installations with a disaster resiliency that can be better than with the original Alpha equipment. OpenVMS and Tru64 enthousiasts thought things couldn’t get better than with these operating systems. Guess what: they just did!

Proof is good, but customer confirmation is better. We have multiple customers using this capability and JCC, USA recently reported their positive experience on Twitter,

Check it out and let us know when you want to hear more about this capability.

Springtime, the birth of a new vtAlpha version

On April 3, 2013 AVTware gave birth to vtAlpha v2.7.

Additional characteristics of this brand new vtAlpha family member:

  • Support for legacy storage types (MSCP, DSSI, IDE and RAID).
  • Network File Storage (NFS) included. Interesting for “on the fly” off-host backups.
  • vtAlpha full system partition backup and restore.
  • Email alerts to notify system management of critical issues.
  • Virtual PBXDA (Serial Line Adapter) enhancements.
  • Full VMware Vmotion support (migrate a running OpenVMS/Tru64 system from one host to another)
  • Various improvements in the management tool.

With this new version vtAlpha shows its constant growth in functionality, again including many requests we receive from our customers.

We encourage you to keep us on the edge, improving the product by telling our local representatives about your desires and requirements for vtAlpha.

Let us know what you like to see in the next version.


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!!

vtAlpha: a Green Machine

Aside from being a quick and easy way to prolong the life time of your Alpha applications, applying vtAlpha can be a serious contribution to lowering your energy consumption.

We ran a energy consumption measurement between an AlphaServer of average size and its vtAlpha equivalent. The results were significant.

A four CPU Alpha Server consumed 630 Watts. Its vtAlpha equivalent consumed only 230 Watts. 60% less energy consumption by using vtAlpha!

When you combine two of these Alpha’s on a single host, power consumption will drop from 1260 Watt to 290: 75% less!

Also, the energy candle burns on two ends: power consumption results in heat dissipation, which you have to cool down again, so the gain is x 2. When you have Green Goals to achieve vtAlpha will certainly help you.

And there is more.

We have developed the Eco App, allowing vtAlpha to cut energy consumption even further. Eco App shaves another 25% of your energy consumption. It is packaged with vtAlpha, you only have to add it to OpenVMS or activate it in a Tru64 installation. There are no downsides for its use, no performance loss or anything else, so we recommend to always activate it.

Green Machine

Please check your vtAlpha documentation, your vtAlpha support person, or ask us to contact you.


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

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:

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.