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.

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.

Tru64 Clustering with vtAlpha

Tru64OpenVMS clustering was already included in vtAlpha from the early beginning and with version 2.6 TruCluster support (Tru64 clustering) is added.

vtAlpha TruCluster support allows moving all Tru64 installations to a modern X86 host platform and form a cluster.  Modern storage products (e.g. 3PAR) are supported, without your Tru64 based software knowing about it. Upgrade your storage to the latest level!

vtAlpha supports clustering via  FibreChannel, SCSI and logical disks. Implementation examples:

  • Replacing a hardware Alpha in a running multi-node FibreChannel based cluster.  Mixed Cluster of physical and virtual Alphas
  • Replacing a Alpha cluster by a virtual equivalent running on HP Proliants.

When you would like to learn more about this we invite you to let us know (contact request page) so we can follow up on your request.