VMS Software Inc. (VSI) has opened its field testing for the 9.1 version of VSI OpenVMS x86-64. The latest version of OpenVMS will run on x86-64 servers with a hypervisor layer. Supported hypervisors, the software which creates and runs virtual machines, includes those from VMware, Oracle’s VirtualBox, and Redhat’s KVM.
VSI is taking applications for delivery of the 9.1 code. Applicants have to be current VSI customers. Those who need to compile and link their source code will need an Integrity running OpenVMS V8.4-2L1 or higher. That’s because OpenVMS V9.1 does not have native compilers yet.
The VSI rollout strategy includes one additional step in the evolution of the first OpenVMS that can boot up off Intel hardware. Release 9.2 will mark a full production version that may appear by 2022. Direct support for x86-64 hardware systems is in a later release.
VMS experts consider that direct support to be bare-metal. VSI OpenVMS x86-64 V9.1 only supports SATA disks. Support for other disk types will be added in future releases of VSI OpenVMS x86-64.
Going virtual at first
The current release of 9.1 only runs on virtual hosts. Many current OpenVMS systems rely on SCSI storage, though. “You could probably get a SCSI card to go into whatever machine you use as a virtual host,” says John Reinhardt on the OpenVMS newsgroup. “But you’d need some sort of pass-thru connection to get those SCSI disks to the OpenVMS virtual machine. VMware ESXI Enterprise might do that. I’m pretty positive that Oracle VirtualBox can’t.”
Modern, state of the art virtualization employs the latest storage, usually accessed through virtual cradles. For example, virtualization instances of VAX and Alpha systems in the Charon environments employ SSD and SATA devices. In the VSI design, “You need to wait until a subsequent release of V9.x to support physical hardware,” Reinhardt says. “Then you’d need a SCSI card that was supported by both the physical hardware and OpenVMS.”
“It might be a while, and then it may depend on what hardware you can get.”
The emergence of 9.1 adds more credibility for the dream of an OpenVMS written for Intel. This is not a VMS solution that makes Intel’s hardware act like VAX, or even Alpha. That solution is running across the community in Charon sites. The VSI step takes the OS itself and remakes it for use, through a hypervisor, on x86-64 systems.
“There is also the political aspect of it,” says Arne Vajhøj “For quite some time when the [higher-ups] asked the VMS guy, “When is VMS x86-64 coming?” the answer has been ‘It has been released in beta and I have heard good reports about it.’ Now there can come a new answer. ‘I am running it here as an early access tester and it looks pretty good.’ It gives an impression of progress.”