Herewith a synposis of the recent DFWLUG event in Texas. Enjoy.
DECUS Does Dallas: DFWLUG OVMS Engineering Meeting 12-13 May
(c) 1998 by Terry C. Shannon
The Spring 1998 DECUS US Chapter event in Philadelphia became a non-event at the eleventh hour, but such was not the case with the Texas-size mega-meeting held on May 12 and 13 by the Dallas-Fort Worth DECUS Local Users Group. Over 250 attendees hailing from Texas, the Midwest, New England, and even Italy descended on the Hotel Intercontinental in Dallas for two full days of OpenVMiscellany provided by OpenVMS Engineering and a close circle of friends. SKD was among those present in the audience and on the stage, and we found the event to be entertaining, illuminating, and well worth the trip. Here’s a summary of two days dedicated to the OpenVMS operating system.
State of the Operating System
While Digital recently has been emphasizing its 64-bit Unix implementation, OpenVMS remains vital, viable, and extremely profitable. Since its debut almost 21 years ago, the bulletproof OS has been responsible for over $115B in hardware, software, and service-related revenue. About half of DEC’s AlphaServer 8x00 enterprise servers run OpenVMS, and fully 25 percent of OpenVMS TurboLaser customers are new converts to the operating system.
Targeting the High End
The OpenVMS license bodycount has declined from an all-time high of about 565,000 licenses to 434,000 licenses at the end of FY96. SKD estimates the current license count is ~350,000. Despite the ongoing decline—Giga Information Group projects that the base will decline to 200K licenses by 2003—the attrition is occurring among desktops and low-end OpenVMS systems which are being replaced by WNT solutions. High-end, high-margin OpenVMS systems continue to provide Digital with a substantial revenue stream. In recognition of this fact, DEC is deliberately biasing the OS to meet the needs of high-end users running OLTP, database, data mining, and data warehousing apps. As with IBM’s MVS operating system, these application areas provide an arena in which OpenVMS can be positioned and leveraged as a competitive differentiator.
OVMS Gets Galactic
OpenVMS Technical Engineering Manager Steve Zalewski provided a two-hour update on the OpenVMS Galaxy Software Architecture and its Adaptive Partitioned Multiprocessing (APMP) underpinnings. Although Mr. Zalewski’s presentation fell under the purview of proprietary information disclosure, much of the material he discussed is available in the public domain. SKD anticipates that Galaxy will enter beta testing shortly, and that production software will ship by year’s end. A public version of the Galaxy pitch is archived at http://www. montagar.com/dfwlug.
During the same late-1998 timeframe, OpenVMS Version 7.2, a.k.a. Raven, is slated to ship. Under PID, symposium attendees got a complete rundown on the new release. Version 7.2 includes support for new hardware, as well as integrated Galaxy capabilities, and more.
In SKD’s estimation, the high point of the meeting was DFWLUG member Pat Jankowiak’s technology demonstration. Applying the principles discussed in Characterization of Organic Illumination Systems, a DEC Western Research Laboratory treatise by Hamburgen, Mogul, et al, to a real-world scenario, Mr. Jankowiak devised a technology demonstration of the first Alpha implementation. The EV1 demo not only proved that EV stands for “Electric Vlasic,” it offered conclusive evidence that a kosher dill subjected to 200W at 5A is in need of thermal management. Instructions for recreating this tribute to Sir Humphrey Davy and Thomas Edison can be had from the DFWLUG, however Jankowiak advises readers not to try this at home.
A Little Help from Your Friends
Thanks to the help of Digital and some of its parters, the DFWLUG managed to host 250 people for two days while eschewing an event registration fee. This was made possible by the participation and financial sponsorship of Avnet Computer, Digital, Johnson & Associates, Pioneer-Standard, and Wyle. Moreover, over half a dozen OpenVMS engineers made the pilgrimage from Nashua, NH to deliver OVMS presentations.
DECUS Done Right
Digital’s user society has suffered more than its share of problems lately, including a steady decline in symposium attendance, cancelled events, and inflammatory rhetoric regarding the actions of the DECUS Board of Directors. In addition, Compaq will have a great deal to say about the future of the DECUS US Chapter. Compaq is aware of the existence of the Society, but the Houston firm has no first-hand experience with the sponsorship of a user organization.
It’s difficult to predict the future of DEC US on a national or international level, but the DFWLUG takes a think globally, act locally approach. The LUG successfully sponsored an event which initially was projected to cater to 20 attendees but expanded twelvefold in a period of several months. Not bad for a grassroots organization whose steering committee consists of just 15 members.
The DFWLUG also sponsors Longwords, a monthly newsletter, as well as gratis monthly classes in various aspects of OpenVMS operation and management. Finally, the organization played a key role in convincing Digital to offer free two-user OpenVMS Hobbyist Licenses to the VAX community. If the DFWLUG maintains its focus and stays the course, the organization can serve as a role model for other local user groups, thereby preserving the spirit of DECUS, and perhaps attracting some much-needed positive attention from Compaq.