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Swiss software emulation expert Stromasys has launched a virtualization product that can take vintage VAX, Alpha, HP 3000, PDP-11, and Sparc applications to the cloud.

Surprising numbers of critical services are running on platforms originally created for hardware which is no longer produced. Stromasys' service run them from a third-party data center, giving all the features and benefits of a cloud infrastructure, without having to recompile decades-old code.

Out with the old
PDP-11 and Vax by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), as well as HP 3000 by Hewlett-Packard were minicomputer systems created in the 1970s. The Sparc RISC chip (now owned by Oracle) was introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1987, while the 64-bit Alpha architecture from DEC appeared in 1992.

Despite their venerable age, such systems are still used for many mission critical applications in fields such as banking, manufacturing and air traffic control. The OpenVMS operating system from the Vax, along with other venerable platforms, is still supported by HP.

However, the aging components and disappearance of some suppliers (DEC was acquired by Compaq and then merged with HP) have made the operation of these systems on the original hardware increasingly difficult. Porting complete solutions to new hardware and a new OS is often expensive and associated with high risk.

In response to this, Stromasys has launched a virtualization service that promises to solve the problem of legacy apps. It can reduce the costs associated with maintaining legacy infrastructure, while providing easy access from any device – something we expect as standard today.

“We are proud to be the first company to give customers complete flexibility and choice in migrating their classic systems, either to the cloud or to the latest generation of on-premise servers,” said John Prot, CEO of Stromasys.

Stromasys is known for its Charon software, which has been used to emulate some of the older DEC systems on x86 hardware for the past 15 years. In Greek mythology, Charon was the ferry man whose task was to transport the dead across the river Styx to Hades, towards their afterlife.

Of the 1990s RISC processors, Sun's Sparc and IBM's Power continue. Last week, Oracle reaffirmed its commitment to Sparc, with former CEO Larry Ellison singing praises to the upcoming Sparc M7 during his keynote at the Oracle OpenWorld conference.

And IBM has launched the first new Power-based servers since handing management of the architecture to the OpenPower Consortium.