Case Studies

CHARON™-VAX Saves Millions for Trend Windows

May 16th, 2011

The Challenge –

All of Trend Windows & Doors critical operating systems – including product design, manufacturing, and sales, were reliant on an aging DEC VAX 7840 VMS server released in the mid 1970s. It had reached capacity, and since the cost of rewriting all the company’s operational systems would have run into millions of dollars, Trend was considering the purchase and commissioning of a second aging VAX system in order to increase capacity, while retaining their current software applications. While this would have been a less costly solution, there were concerns that a second system might incur unforseen teething problems or fail to deliver the promised improvement in processing capacity, both negative outcomes that could have compromised the company’s manufacturing or sales operations. There was also concern about the large footprint of an additional VAX system and the cost of an enlarged operating environment at Trend’s Girraween headquarters in Sydney. Trend also felt the need for a modern storage solution that would not have been compatible with the old VAX legacy system.


The Opportunity

Trend’s long-time IT supplier, Oriel Technologies, approached UBS Solutions to evaluate
CHARON-VAX as a virtual VAX environment that would enable all current VAX applications
to run unchanged on a modern server, while also enabling much higher processing speeds
and ensuring capacity for future expansion. The challenge was to deliver a legacy system
migration project to move the Trend applications to another platform without changing user
interaction, code in the application, access to Rdb on Windows, and a number of LAT
connected devices used within the manufacturing process. Unlike other virtual VAX systems
available, CHARON-VAX is the only solution capable of creating an exact replication of
the current VAX system, rather than attempting to imitate the VAX applications on other
platforms.


The Discovery

Because of the strong Oriel Technologies relationship with HP, HP agreed to provide the
facilities of their testing room for a month in order to test the operation of Trend’s current VAX
software through the CHARON overlay, which was installed on a new HP server. Thanks to
this exhaustive testing, the decision to install CHARON-VAX was a low-risk one. As Trend IT
Manager Ray Schroder commented, “the CHARON-VAX product was proved to be all it had
claimed to be and it has been working for us very, very well more than three years now.”


The Implementation

Geoff Lang of UBS, who has facilitated more than 120 CHARON-VAX migrations in
Australia, has never yet encountered any major problem during this process. He recalls
that management of the CHARON-VAX implementation project was accomplished by Oriel
with support from UBS over a single weekend with minimal downtime. Minor hardware
connectivity issues that arose due to the aging hardware were dealt with easily and the
project was completed on time and within budget with minimal impact to the business and
the end users. The migration to a new AMD based HP Proliant DL385 server also facilitated
the addition of storage and other modern functions which were incompatible with the old
VAX hardware.


The Results

Trend IT Manager Ray Schroder concurs that the migration of the Trend Windows legacy
software to the new high speed operating environment has proved to be very successful. The
result is a fully functioning, identically performing OpenVMS application on a segmented
network and Trend Windows now use their Virtual VAX/VMS Server with their critical
business application every day. The current CHARON-VAX system is expected to remain
in place for another 10 years and if a performance boost is required in the future, the
CHARON software can simply be upgraded with a few minutes outage. The system also
streamlines the nightly backup operation, now accomplished in minutes instead of the hours
taken by the legacy system.
As an added bonus, the transfer of the operating software from the aging VAX server to the
new HP server also resulted in a major reduction in the cost of the operating environment,
which was physically moved from the in-house facility at Girraween to a hosted space within
Telstra’s Sydney hosting facility. This not only ensures greater operating security for Trend, but
also frees up a significant amount of overhead in Trend’s corporate headquarters in terms of
rent, power, and carbon footprint.


About Stromasys

Stromasys SA is a privately held company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, serving
thousands of users in more than 50 countries. Stromasys develops and markets Cross-Platform
Virtualization solutions that allow owners of PDP, VAX, and Alpha computers to continue to run
their mission-critical applications – unchanged on new, industry standard computer systems.
Stromasys SA was established in 1998 as part of a management buyout of DEC’s (Digital
Equipment Corporation) European Migration and Porting centre following the HP/Compaq
merger. The vast experience gained from years of large-scale migration and porting projects,
System-level VMS engineering projects and development of Binary translators eventually led
to the development of the CHARON-VAX and CHARON-AXP products. For more information,
please visit www.stromasys.com.