Compaq Ratchets Up OpenVMS with V7.3

Compaq Computer Corp.'s newly released OpenVMS Version 7.3 builds on the company's promise to enhance the 24-year-old operating system it acquired from Digital Equipment Corp. two years ago, users and analysts said.

The release of the operating system also lays to rest any lingering speculation about Compaq's long-term commitment to the platform, analysts said.

The OpenVMS Version 7.3 operating system, announced this week, features improved disaster tolerance, clustering, data backup and Web-serving capabilities, Compaq said.

The company also said this week that it will actively seek Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment (COE) certification for the operating system in a bid to reach new customers in the U.S. government marketplace. The COE is a set of standards and guidelines that technologies must adhere to before they can be sold into federal agencies.

Viva VMS

The move "puts to rest the ‘VMS is dead' rumors and misconceptions" that have surrounded the operating system for the past few years, said Terry Shannon, editor of "Shannon Knows Compaq," a newsletter based in Ashland, Mass. Since COE certification requires vendors to commit to supporting a platform for specific multiyear periods, "this is the closest that users are going to get to a contract signed in blood that VMS will be around for several years to come," Shannon said.

OpenVMS is a popular mid- to high-end operating system that Compaq acquired from Digital. It powers some of Compaq's highest-end servers, including the company's new 32-processor Wildfire Alpha server. Despite its continued presence in the high-end market, users say they are concerned about Compaq's long-term commitment to the platform because of its low volume and proprietary roots.

OpenVMS Version 7.3 has been enhanced in various ways. "Some of these features - such as extended file caching - are long-awaited features" on OpenVMS, said Robert Young, a consultant at Newcastle, Del.-based AmeriStar Technologies Inc., which uses OpenVMS and is currently migrating to new, more powerful VMS servers. Similarly, the increased system availability possible now during backups is a "big win for folks with a heritage database," he said.

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