VMS ecosystem revisited

requin 1.jpg

I wrote here last July an Open letter to Meg Witman. I received an indirect answer with the creation of VSI, which takes over VMS development for the next decades, re-opens the Itanium market to make it a profitable end, gives a smooth transition for HP-UX customers basis, and projects to make VMS on x86 a real new challenger in dependable OSes at the horizon of 2018.

The event is of the same importance of Microsoft taking over the desk OS from IBM. Not billions uncertain acquisition, like we see with big companies, just a right economic alliance. Today Mr Bill Gates is the richer man in the world. We wish the same success for Harry, Sue and Eddie. They deserve it. Perhaps they just hope to demonstrate “doing the right thing” is a good way to success.

The train which will officially start in spring 2015 can be named upon Ken Olsen. VSI people, a majority from Boston high universities area, know a lot about Ken’s inheritance. “Doing the right thing” has been the maxim of Digital which placed users interests at the first place. And Digital has been a huge success in the history on computers companies. Science and hearing of users as a key for success. It is this type of development strategy that VSI takes giving a new future for an OS, VMS, which has been of equal importance as Unix sometimes.

This project is a win-win-win-win.

  • Oracle was right thinking the “only Itanium” strategy was wrong.
  • HP was right thinking declining VMS ecosystem deserved another way of investment.
  • US court was right making Oracle moderate its way out of Itanium.
  • The fourth win is probably even better. OSes for dependable systems became a not-so-huge market, but they serve very important sites (health systems, transportation, financials, large resellers,…) and the huge reaction from the users of VMS last year proved the vitality of these ecosystems. The VMS ecosystem needs a very-long-term engagement (VMS on x86 or VMWare), and, in the same time, a very conservative path using the existent line of products (Itanium). The one actor who was missing: just an investor. With VSI we have together a non-only Itanium VMS, but also a huge profit for all actors with the last decade for Itanium, a specific investment for a not-so-huge-today market, allied with huge companies acting in the main stream. A new train, joining glorious pasts with innovative futures, deploying specifics for dependable systems as neighbors of global hyper-scaled lesser exigent systems.

This letter is a command. One of the new friends my work for VMS opened for me, Mr Olaf Leonhardt, is worrying about a potential lateness for our train. Olaf is manager of an IT system on VMS and Oracle database for a company in Europe with more than 12000 employees. Beside our exceptionally friendship, Olaf is not so exceptional:  VMS sites use often Oracle databases, and VMS sites are often at the heart of big companies.

However, it seems Oracle is at risk of missing the “rendez-vous”. Olaf and us are waiting for official engagements for Oracle 11g, Oracle 12, Oracle rdb on the new versions of VMS supported by VSI. It seems it is not a technical issue, just some organizational delays, or perhaps the impossibility of thinking about new alliances with actors among them they are ancient “enemies”.

So Safra, Marc, just think about it. The database market is evolving, the Open Source solutions are more and more present, new actors appear and want to put away the too weighted ancestors. You have got with VMS or HP-UX a very loyal customers basis. Yes, they are yet on Itanium, and you could imagine that you help them only constrained by law. Not too sexy, isn’t it? Taking the VSI new train you have the opportunity to prove that Oracle had a very interest for its customer when it warned about Itanium, and that, because for now there is a real future after Itanium, it is time to help your loyal customers to live where they are and to think about futures with you.

And, moreover, the whole IT world needs a signal. Yes, some main stream is wealthy, and, somehow, useful. But some other IT domains must be supported, the ones who were at the foundation of the IT uses, uses on which a lot of very useful functions exists: health systems, large range resellers, transportation control, financials… IT is a serious domain, in which support for very high quality is necessary, even when immediate profit is not here. As PC line of investment has been a very good bet, VMS line of investment is a good bet. Do take the train.

Somehow it is a paradox. What Olaf and us are demanding from Oracle, as what that was decided with creation of VSI, is “at no cost”. Publishing engagements about Oracle databases is at no cost, because the technical issues are not too far from being already resolved. HP taking over VMS to VSI is a no cost solution for HP. And it seems these two no cost solutions involved a very hard decision making process, which had to be encouraged by open letters from customers. In the same time Oracle or HP could pay billions for more uncertain bets. Meg, Safra, Marc, are we too inexpensive? If you think it will be more serious to spend money, do create foundations for the resiliency of dependable systems, just reconciliate on such projects, promote VSI line of products, found universities enabling transmission of knowledge between IT founders and young geniuses, think about preserving multi-paces lines of investment… Our European think tanks miss perhaps yet some little more decisions from you, but we don’t miss innovative ideas. Do take the old-new train with us.

A very good new year for everyone, and, do remember, Safra and Marc, for our little gifts, just an agenda, please.

Best regards,

Gérard Calliet, Olaf Leonhardt

Så här i slutet av 2013 inträffar två av våra aktiviteter samtidigt:

  • HP-Interex France ser slutresultatet av ett halvårs arbete och offentliggör de första resultaten från enkäten i Frankrike (Resultat från enkäten),
  • ör hela OpenVMS-gruppen sker en korrigering av meddelandet från 2013 och därmed ändras vissa uppgifter (brev till OpenVMS kunder indicant inklusive em till 8,4 år 2025, återkommer vi mer i detalj dessa korrigeringar).

Det är naturligtvis nödvändigt att analysera det nya meddelandet från HP i detalj, följa kunderna som berörs och besvara olika spörsmål. Vi måste också noggrant beakta de reaktioner som vi har fått in.

Men vi kan ändå lägga fram en mer generell vision.

Majoriteten av den franska allmänheten blev extremt upprörd av meddelandet i juni, och förtroendekrisen gentemot HP är också mycket utbredd. Aktörerna som uttalar sig är för det mesta medlemmar i stora eller mycket stora företag (metallindustri, transport, energi, finans), men små och medelstora företag ansluter sig också i kritiken.

För de förstnämnda handlar det om framtida industririsker eller om kostnader för känsliga verksamhetsområden. För de senare handlar det om en överlevnad för företaget.

Samtidigt visar HP:s meddelande om korrigering att de blivit något medvetna om begångna fel, och detta beror enbart på de häftiga reaktioner som kommit från kunder över hela världen. Men det är också slående hur svag den korrigering som genomförts är.

Man kan således fråga sig hur denna brist på överensstämmelse har kunnat uppstå. Vilket samband finns det mellan den ena sidans häftiga reaktioner och ett ganska milt ”gentleman agreement” från den andra sidan?

Man kan troligtvis söka efter svaret i själva ekosystemet OpenVMS.

Tekniska beslutfattare har goda kunskaper om systemet, men för verkställande direktörer är det visserligen ett viktigt hjälpmedel men också på många sätt sekundärt och föråldrat. Emellertid finns allmänheten, som vi kan ställa frågor till, i den tekniska sfären (vi har huvudsakligen förlitat oss på våra kontakter från TUD), medan HP:s beslutsfattare hellre lyssnar på sina kollegor inom storindustrin.

Vi anser att det föreligger en stor risk här: HP kan utan att egentligen vilja det förvärra ekosystemet OpenVMS:s strukturella divergens mellan vice direktörer och ledningen för informatik samt mellan storföretag och små och medelstora företag.

Men lägg märke till att även om det finns vissa problem så existerar OpenVMS-gruppen och HP har möjlighet att lyssna på dem. Det här är två positiva åtgärder och de ska tolkas som en uppmuntrande inledning.