HP tries to assure OpenVMS users that OS still has a future

On software's 30th anniversary, vendor says it's committed to the technology

Hewlett-Packard officials are marking the 30th anniversary of the OpenVMS operating system's introduction by telling users of the software that it still doesn't have an expiration date.

To deliver that message, HP has brought out some of its top executives, including Martin Fink, senior vice president and general manager of the company's business-critical systems group. During a webcast, Fink responded to questions submitted by members of the Chicago-based Encompass user group. Encompass, which originated as a group for customers of the former Digital Equipment Corp., also posted a document containing written responses to questions that were posed to Fink in advance of the webcast.

In addition, Mark Hurd, HP's chairman, CEO and president, has recorded a video that can be viewed on an OpenVMS 30th anniversary Web site that the vendor has set up. In the video, Hurd tells OpenVMS users that the operating system remains a "key product" and that HP "will continue to support it for the foreseeable future."

Moreover, HP last week announced an updated version of the operating system that is due out within the next two weeks and will include new hardware support plus other features. The company also said it plans to add support for the JBoss and MySQL open-source technologies in a subsequent release next year.

OpenVMS was released on October 25, 1977, and initially known simply as VMS. The software was developed by DEC, which later was acquired by Compaq Computer, which in turn was purchased by HP in 2002.

The acquisitions made the OpenVMS user community nervous -- as did HP's subsequent decision to end development and sales of its AlphaServer systems, the hardware line that was synonymous with OpenVMS. HP says AlphaServer users should switch to its Itanium-based Integrity servers.

But some users are worried that pulling the plug on the AlphaServers will send a signal to independent software vendors that OpenVMS is just a second cousin to HP-UX, the company's version of Unix, and thereby influence future porting decisions on key applications.

For instance, Cerner, a vendor of health care applications that run on OpenVMS on the AlphaServer line, said earlier this year that it didn't plan to support that operating system on the Integrity hardware. Instead, Cerner had begun offering its flagship Millennium 2007 software on Integrity systems running HP-UX.

Despite HP's recent efforts to get its message out about the future of OpenVMS, users like Charles Tollett remain concerned.

"I'm waiting to see if the actions match the statements," said Tollett, an OpenVMS systems administrator who asked that his company not be identified. He added that he wants HP to do more to keep the existing support of independent software vendors for OpenVMS -- and even build on it.

"I'm not convinced that they are putting that message to the vendors strong enough, and often enough, to get the vendors to buy into it," said Tollett, who listened to the Encompass webcast with Fink.

But Ann McQuaid, general manager of HP's OpenVMS systems division, said that 90% of the software vendors that support OpenVMS have ported applications to the Itanium-based Integrity platform. Altogether, some 1,200 OpenVMS applications from about 600 companies are available on the Integrity systems, according to McQuaid.

The bulk of the OpenVMS installed base remains on AlphaServer systems, with market researcher IDC estimating that there are still about 150,000 Alpha-based systems in use. But McQuaid said HP is "seeing a lot of movement to Integrity."

The new version of OpenVMS that HP plans to release will include tools for managing blade servers, expanding on initial blade support that was announced earlier this year.

JBoss and MySQL are both available on OpenVMS now, but they aren't supported by HP itself. McQuaid said that JBoss support will become available in next year's first quarter, and that support for MySQL may follow by mid-2008. Customers that are using one of those products with OpenVMS will be able to get support for the open-source technology from HP under their existing service contracts, she added.

HP also plans to add support for its Integrity Virtual Machine technology to OpenVMS, starting with prototype versions that are scheduled for release next year, McQuaid said. Integrity Virtual Machine enables users to create multiple virtual servers.

Robert Gezelter, an OpenVMS consultant in Flushing, N.Y., said he has been very satisfied with the operating system running on Integrity systems. The software has been highly stable and usable on that platform, Gezelter said, adding that moving to Itanium-based hardware has lowered the cost of using OpenVMS.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?