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DECUS US CHAPTER SYMPOSIUM: OVMS IN CINCINNATI

Source: Shannon Knows DEC, Volume 4, Number 11, June 1, 1997
Terry C. Shannon

From May 18 through 22, a small but enthusiastic band of Digital loyalists gathered by the river at the Cincinnati Convention Center to participate in the Spring 1997 DECUS US Chapter Symposium and Trade Show. Among those present was SKD's editor, who found that his 27th consecutive DECUS US symposium was a target-rich environment replete with information on DEC and its partners. Presented herewith are some insights and highlights from the Cincinnati DECUS get-together.

OpenVMS Rules in Cincinnati

With Digital UNIX forces adopting a low profile on the symposium agenda and trade show floor, and with the epicenter of WNT activity relocated to New York City for Scalability Day, OpenVMS took center stage in Cincinnati. Thanks to a three-pronged product and publicity attack, OpenVMS was king of the Queen City DECUS event. The Wave 4 Affinity rollout was widely anticipated, but the announcement of OpenVMS Hobbyist licenses and public references to the Galaxy software architecture came as pleasant surprises.

During the Sunday night symposium reception, DEC VP Wes Melling announced the OpenVMS Hobbyist License Program. Thanks in part to Pat Jankowiak, the Dallas-Fort Worth LUG member who proposed the concept at the Fall 1996 DECUS symposium (see SKD V3N23, December 4, 1996), a two-user OpenVMS VAX software license is now available free of charge to DECUS US members who want to use VAX systems in the privacy of their own homes for non-commercial purposes. Details on this program 'which elevates OpenVMS to the exalted freeware status enjoyed by Linux and NetBSD' can be found at www.montagar.com/hobbyist/.

More Monotonous Predictability

Continuing his "monotonously predictable" rollout of OpenVMS-WNT interoperability adjuncts, Mr. Melling presided over the Wave 4 Affinity announcement on Monday May 19. Complete Wave 4 details are available at the OpenVMS website or at the new Customer Update website. Wave 4 products range from a $1.2K DEC COBOL for WNT license to a $104.5K OpenVMS Data Mart software/consulting package.

Beyond Clusters

Melling spiced up his Wave 4 presentation with several tantalizing references to the OpenVMS Galaxy Software Architecture. Additional details were provided in a Galaxy PID session. (See "The Future of OpenVMS: It's Gonna Be Galactic," this issue, for a description and assessment of the Galaxy architecture based on public-domain information.)

While WNT 5.0 asserted a symposium presence only via the May 20 simulcast of Bill Gates' and Bob Palmer's Scalability Day pitches, the Microsoft OS got a shot in the arm from OpenVMS Disk Services for WNT, a new product that enables an OpenVMS file to serve as a WNT disk. Centralized storage and management, as well as access to the goodness and reliability of VMSclusters, are among the benefits that accrue to this VMScluster-resident service. Old DEC hands doubtlessly will note some resemblance between NTDS and the decade-old VMS Services for MS-DOS software introduced with the VAXmate PC.

Digital Still Listens

Although the DEC VP's reception was conspicuous in its absence from the symposium agenda, VP Jesse Lipcon once again hosted the ever-popular "Digital Listens" panel. Several hundred attendees spent two hours apprising Jesse and his panelists of their DEC-specific suggestions, aspirations, and frustrations. Per usual, ease of doing business was a key complaint. Marketing admonitions were prevalent as well.

Digital apparently does listen, based on a review of the top issues raised at the November 1996 Digital Listens panel in Anaheim. The OpenVMS Hobbyist License is reality, DEC is providing Year 2000 readiness status on its products at http://www.software.digital.com/year2000 Customer Update is again available as a hardcopy document (email reuthersu@mail.dec.com to subscribe), Oracle/Digital support is better coordinated, and education customers again enjoy a common discount structure as well as special promotional prices, including an 80 percent discount on new AltaVista applications not covered by Digital's CSLG program.

For the tenth consecutive year, SKD's editor presented a session on Digital's Strategic Directions. PowerPoint versions of the strategy presentation, and a complementary software talk, are available upon request to SKD subscribers.

Walking the Trade Show Floor

The DECUS Trade Show lacked some of its usual participants. Digital's UNIX group was hard to find, and the PCBU was AWOL. Oracle asserted a low-key presence, but Process Software boosted its profile via the acquisition of Cisco's MultiNet and MultiNet Secure/IP products. Things are happening at Touch Technologies and Raxco Software; stay tuned for near-term announcements from both of these long-time DEC ISVs. Fault-tolerant WNT vendor Marathon should be in the news, too.

DECUS DECline Continues

There seems to be a correlation between DECUS symposium attendance and Digital's employee population, both of which peaked in the late 1980's, and both of which continue to diminish. No headcount figures were released for the Cincinnati symposium, but SKD estimates that ~800 paid attendees walked the halls of the Convention Center.

Despite the downward trend in attendance, DECUS US will stay the course with twice-yearly events through 1998. According to a member of the DECUS Program Team, it would cost the Society more to cancel the Spring 1998 Symposium in Philadelphia than it would to hold the event "even if nobody showed up." Going forward, SKD believes that DECUS US will modify its symposium frequency to once per year in 1999.

SKD's Product Picks

In addition to serving on the BackOffice Magazine Best Of Show Select awards committee, SKD conducted its traditional search for memorable symposium offerings. The Spring 1997 winners include the OpenVMS Hobbyist License from the DECUS DFWLUG, IntraServer Technology\'12s 64-bit PCI UltraWide SCSI adaptor (www.intraserver.com), and Great Lakes Computer's rock-bottom Alpha pricing. Contact Great Lakes at 1-616-698-1100 for details on OpenVMS or UNIX-based AlphaStation 200 4/166s at $1,495, or WNT-based Alpha XL300 workstations for $1,895. All configurations are sans monitor, but all are brand new and fully warranted.

A November DECUS to Remember

It's not too early to start planning for the next DECUS US event. The Fall 1997 symposium will be held November 1 through 6 in Anaheim, CA. The symposium will feature Digital CEO Bob Palmer and a possible appearance by DEC rumourmonger Charlie Matco as well as a special observance of the 20th anniversary of OpenVMS. Info on affordable housing is available from SKD. Be there or be square!