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HP's New Ideas Have Old OS At The Core

The success of Hewlett-Packard's new Itanium push, announced Tuesday, to a large extent will be based on a very old operating system: OpenVMS.

"OpenVMS is the operating system that wouldn't die," said Terry Shannon, veteran HP observer, in an interview. "It's a real big day for OpenVMS users." Shannon, who wrote a best selling book on VMS 20 years ago, said the ancient operating system developed at Digital Equipment Corp. still has a huge base of admirers.

"They tried to move users to Windows, but they weren't drinking that Kool-Aid," he said, noting that HP and, before that, Compaq Computer, weren't enthusiastic about OpenVMS. The operating system was initially developed for Digital's VAX family, and then upgraded for its 64-bit Alpha line. HP inherited the Alpha base with its acquisition of Compaq and has been trying to move its Alpha users to its Itanium family.

The availability of OpenVMS v8.2 should help that cause. "HP has been running OpenVMS on Itaniums for a year, and it's been in field tests, too," said Shannon. "It's absolutely the best commercial operating system around. For mission-critical applications, it's perfect."

Also endorsing OpenVMS Tuesday was Computer Associates, which announced that its Unicenter Console Management for OpenVMS is now available. "OpenVMS is playing an important role in mission-critical IT environments worldwide, where performance, availability and security are of paramount importance," said CA vice president of product development Aline Gerew in a statement. CA said it is using its Unicenter Console Management to manage heterogeneous implementations of Integrity servers, AlphaServer systems, and VAX systems.

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