Tomago Aluminium had been running one of their key production systems on an aging DEC Alphaserver for the past eight years. While the proven software running on this OpenVMSbased system was a good functional fit, the age and reliability of the platform was a significant cause for concern. For Tomago, the challenge was to find a means of upgrading and modernizing their computer hardware, while avoiding the significant costs associated with migrating to a new hardware platform and rewriting their applications and programs. An emulator package, which would theoretically enable the existing software to be housed on a modern Windows system, was an obvious alternative, but the risk was that the emulator software would not be capable of creating an exact replication of the legacy AXP system, which was critical for the ongoing productivity of the entire plant. An exact fit was imperative.
Tomago’s IT supplier, Fujitsu, had evaluated all available emulator software packages and
were confident in recommending the Stomasys CHARON-AXP cross-platform virtualization
software as the best practice solution to meet the aluminium producer’s needs. This
decision was based on the CHARON software’s proven ability to replicate the legacy AXP
system exactly, and factored in the active involvement of UBS in the migration process, since
they had already successfully completed over 120 AXP migrations. Tomago then requested
reference sites from UBS and contacted existing CHARON users in Australia to confirm their
positive experiences with the system.
Because the software programs running on the legacy system were mission-critical,
the Tomago Project Team made risk minimization a priority during the implementation
process. Accordingly, they decided that the live migration would not go ahead until the
ability of the CHARON system to replicate the AXP functionality had been proven, and
these trials were undertaken with active support of both Fujitsu and UBS. The initial
migration took place in a development situation in order to validate that everything that
was running on the legacy system was also running on the emulator system. Because
of this diligent preparation, the live migration was absolutely painless and took place in
less than four hours.
The migration from the aging AlphaServer to the CHARON-AXP software was completely
successful, and has delivered an OpenVMS application that is fully functioning and
performs identically to the legacy system, without compromising access to Windows,
Oracle, or the connection to essential LAT devices used to capture data in the
As Tomago Project Manager Lesleyanne Clifton points out, the CHARON-AXP emulation
of the legacy software was so perfect, and the migration so painless that the majority of
end users were not consciously aware it had taken place, even though all internal users
were officially notified of the changeover.
The overall efficiency of the system has been greatly enhanced, since backup has been
converted to a virtual tape application built into the CHARON system, and as a result,
nightly backup that used to take 5 hours now takes 30 minutes. The new IBM X Series
Server now running the CHARON software occupies a fraction of the rack space required
by the legacy system and reduces operating costs, since it consumes significantly less
power and emits less heat, a factor in reducing CO2 emissions.
The new system has a useful life of at least 10 years and can be expanded at any time
during or after this period should extra system capacity be required in the future.
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 business-critical applications unchanged on modern, industrystandard
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.