Stay on Alpha forever? - VMS

This is a discussion on Stay on Alpha forever? - VMS ; I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity. I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs in the tens of thousands, with ...

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  1. Stay on Alpha forever?

    I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.

    I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.

    But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.

    Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    Alphas forever?


  2. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    tadamsmar wrote:
    > I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.
    >
    > I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    > on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    > in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.
    >
    > But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.
    >
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?
    >


    Nothing lasts "forever"! If you buy spares now, you should be able to
    run on Alpha for the next twenty or thirty years. This means a couple
    of spare machines plus spare parts such as power supplies and fans.

    Alphas will be around and in service for many years. Consider that
    there are a few VAXen still in service a bit more than twelve years
    after the first Alphas hit the streets. Somehow I doubt that the same
    can be said for Itanic. Itanic has been "sailing under a curse" from
    day one. It was announced before even samples were available and the
    scheduled availability date slipped several times for a total of several
    years! It has been referred to, contemptuously as "Unobtainium" for
    that reason.

    I've no personal experience but I've read that Itanic has little or no
    performance advantage over the best Alphas.

    And before you spend a lot of money, question how long the application
    will be in use in it's current form! There's a good chance that in five
    or ten years the application will no longer meet the needs of the
    business. At that point, at whatever time it occurs, Alphas may not
    meet the needs of the business either.



  3. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?


    "tadamsmar" wrote in message
    news:1185995866.368720.29970@g4g2000hsf.googlegrou ps.com...
    >I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.
    >
    > I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    > on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    > in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.
    >
    > But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.
    >
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?


    There are few reasons I could think of that justify migration:

    1. Performance - most of the applications I've seen, got significant
    performance boost by going to Itanium.

    2. New hardware support - if you need 10gb lan adapter, it's
    only available on Itanium

    3. Cost of software support - should be lower but YMMV based
    on local country policy.

    99% of customer I've worked with completed the port itself in less
    than a week. Planning and testing takes longer of course.

    fwiw,

    Guy Peleg
    BRUDEN-OSSG
    http://www.brudenossg.com


    >




    --
    Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


  4. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    tadamsmar writes:

    >I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.


    >I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    >on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    >in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.


    >But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.


    >Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    >Alphas forever?


    Not enough info.

    Are your Alphas already old, the latest model or somewhere in between?

    Do you need a performance boost now? What kind of performance boost are
    you likely to need in the future?

    Can you expand your application by adding nodes to a cluster, or CPU cards
    and/or memory to your existing Alphas? Can they be upgraded to a better
    model?

    How likely are you going to need to use new hardware - hardware that
    will only be available on Integrity?

    Will the Itanic upgrade pay for itself in reduced maint. cost or power
    consumption (wait...Itanic power consumption...scratch that argument!)?

    How available are (and will be) spare parts and systems? How much $?

    How good of an idea is it to run a mission critical app. on "old" Alphas?
    That's what people will be thinking in the future.

    Also, a path to consider is to upgrade to Itanic "later". The choice
    isn't binary, upgrade right now or stay on Alpha forever, is it?

  5. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On Aug 1, 3:17 pm, tadamsmar wrote:
    > I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.
    >
    > I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    > on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    > in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.
    >
    > But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.
    >
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?


    What kind of CPU are you currently running on?

    Neil Rieck
    Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge,
    Ontario, Canada.
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/


  6. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    In article <46b0e7c6$0$23226$88260bb3@free.teranews.com>, "Guy Peleg" writes:

    > 99% of customer I've worked with completed the port itself in less
    > than a week.


    But that is a self-selecting sample, of those for whom a port made
    sense and for whom there were appropriate compilers on IPF.

  7. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    tadamsmar explained :
    > I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.
    >
    > I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    > on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    > in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.
    >
    > But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.
    >
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?


    Look at your support costs. We are building a case here, where
    we will replace 8 alpha systems by 8 equivalent IA64 systems,
    and break-even after 3 years. Yes, 3 years of Alpha support >
    3 years of IA64 support + purchase price of the 8 IA64 machines
    - Alpha trade-in. Ask your sales rep to do the cost study for you !
    (Replacement of 6 GS160 QBBs + 2 ES45 by 8 IA64 6xxx machines)

    --
    Marc Van Dyck



  8. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    In article , moroney@world.std.spaamtrap.com (Michael Moroney) writes:

    > Do you need a performance boost now? What kind of performance boost are
    > you likely to need in the future?


    Note that there are some domains where no performance boost is needed.
    The best example I have heard of is the software reading toll tickets
    on toll roads. That is a case where the bandwidth of the road is never
    going to increase enough to tax the computer capacity. And I am quite
    careful before I use the word "never".

  9. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On Wed, 01 Aug 2007 12:17:46 -0700, tadamsmar wrote:

    > I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.
    >
    > I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    > on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    > in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.
    >
    > But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.
    >
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?
    >

    This is the wrong forum to seek that advice, in a sense. It is more of an
    analysis of your own business plans. I can tell you that I know of
    organizations with large VAXen planning to keep them in service past 2020.
    Why? Because Digital didn't properly handled the the VAX - Alpha
    transition.

    Just as Alpha had less capability then VAX, Itanium likewise has less than
    Alpha, and to the extent that this doesn't impact you then you could give
    Itanium a try, if you can make a business case for doing so. Incidentally,
    I found that Alpha executables are about 3x those of VAX, and only recently
    dtermined that there is an expansion of executables form Alpha to Itanium,
    maybe a about a factor of two. Is this significant for the end user,
    probably
    not, but for us of those that muck about in the entrails, it is an
    indication of
    poor design.


    --
    PL/I for OpenVMS
    www.kednos.com

  10. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On Aug 1, 3:17 pm, tadamsmar wrote:
    > I am evaluating an upgrade to Integrity.
    >
    > I am pretty sure the upgrade is going to be more costly than staying
    > on Alpha. I don't have good estimates, but I would ballpark the costs
    > in the tens of thousands, with no significant return on investment.
    >
    > But the app is mission-critical with no end-date in site.
    >
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?


    If you need any help please let me know, we have several programs.
    Sue Skonetski
    OpenVMS Engineering


  11. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    tadamsmar wrote:
    > Can a costly upgrade be justfied simply because you can't stay on
    > Alphas forever?



    As long as new versions of VMS-Alpha are being generated, and as long as
    the current crop of Alpha systems meet your performant growth needs for
    the foreseable future (eg: If you are currenltly happy with a DS class
    machine, you can grow capacity by buying new/used ES class machines.
    (Buying it from HP probably requires you know some magic incantation,
    and/or go through Cerner which supposeldy has a deal to continue to make
    alphas available to its clients) --- then there is no point in migrating
    right away.

    And buying used machines as spares probably allows you to go without
    official costly maintenance contracts for those machines. (HP is bound
    to raise maintenance costs on Alphas as a way to reduce the reluctance
    of customers to migrate to that dead end IA64 thing.

    Say you can last another 3-4 years on your Alphas, by then, the future
    of VMS will be better defined, and your migration paths also better
    defined (IBM, SUN).

  12. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    Another possible avenue if the Alpha maintenance costs are too high
    would be to consider buying 64 bit 8086 servers and running the Alpha
    emulator (*). This will eventually give you performance boosts compared
    to exists systems without the need to migrate to that IA64 thing.

    (remember that ALLIN1 isn't going to IA64).

    At this point in time, I am not sure of the emulator costs are
    competitive with just keeping your existing hardware.

    If you are mission critical and are setup in a cluster and can afford to
    have a node down for a while, then getting spares from ebay/islandco
    might be a very cost effective avenue.



    (*) Stan Quayle can send me some "gift" should you choose that avenue
    :-) :-)


  13. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On 08/01/07 17:00, Larry Kilgallen wrote:
    > In article , moroney@world.std.spaamtrap.com (Michael Moroney) writes:
    >
    >> Do you need a performance boost now? What kind of performance boost are
    >> you likely to need in the future?

    >
    > Note that there are some domains where no performance boost is needed.
    > The best example I have heard of is the software reading toll tickets
    > on toll roads. That is a case where the bandwidth of the road is never
    > going to increase enough to tax the computer capacity. And I am quite
    > careful before I use the word "never".


    More plazas, more lanes, especially more customers, and, if various
    agencies have sharing agreements (think E-ZPass, for those of you in
    the NE United States), more reciprocity processing.

    Eventually, "more, more, more" maxes out the box.

    --
    Ron Johnson, Jr.
    Jefferson LA USA

    Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.
    Hit him with a fish, and he goes away for good!

  14. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    Kilgallen@SpamCop.net (Larry Kilgallen) writes:

    >In article <46b0e7c6$0$23226$88260bb3@free.teranews.com>, "Guy Peleg" writes:


    >> 99% of customer I've worked with completed the port itself in less
    >> than a week.


    >But that is a self-selecting sample, of those for whom a port made
    >sense and for whom there were appropriate compilers on IPF.


    Most of the VMS porting from Alpha to Itanic _is_ very straightforward
    when using a higher level language.

    On the other hand, if you're going from VAX to Itanic, and using Macro,
    and doing just about every crazy trick possible...let's not go there...

  15. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    Kilgallen@SpamCop.net (Larry Kilgallen) writes:

    >In article , moroney@world.std.spaamtrap.com (Michael Moroney) writes:


    >> Do you need a performance boost now? What kind of performance boost are
    >> you likely to need in the future?


    >Note that there are some domains where no performance boost is needed.
    >The best example I have heard of is the software reading toll tickets
    >on toll roads. That is a case where the bandwidth of the road is never
    >going to increase enough to tax the computer capacity. And I am quite
    >careful before I use the word "never".


    I know there are some such situations, which is why I initially asked
    if a performance boost was necessary. I'm porting an application which
    is still running on a Qbus VAX to Itanium (skipping Alpha completely)
    which is never going to use more than a small fraction of the horsepower
    available. But they may wish to add fancy bells and whistles once
    they can.

  16. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    Michael Moroney wrote:
    > Most of the VMS porting from Alpha to Itanic _is_ very straightforward
    > when using a higher level language.



    Until Oracle became available on that IA64 thing, porting Oracle
    applications would have required you wrie your own version of Oracle and
    compile it on that IA64 thing. NOT TRIVIAL.

    Remember that IA64 only has a subset of software (especially middleware
    upon which your apps may rely) of Alpha. So if your company relies on
    software that is known not to be ported to IA64, it won't even
    investigate going to IA64. As someone else said, the statements that
    porting to IA64 is easy are self-selecting since only those for whom a
    port is easy/possible will investigate it to a point where HP is aware
    of it.

  17. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    In article ,
    Kilgallen@SpamCop.net (Larry Kilgallen) wrote:

    > In article , moroney@world.std.spaamtrap.com
    > (Michael Moroney) writes:
    >
    > > Do you need a performance boost now? What kind of performance boost are
    > > you likely to need in the future?

    >
    > Note that there are some domains where no performance boost is needed.
    > The best example I have heard of is the software reading toll tickets
    > on toll roads. That is a case where the bandwidth of the road is never
    > going to increase enough to tax the computer capacity. And I am quite
    > careful before I use the word "never".


    Putting a GUI on it would probably do the trick. Totally unnecessary I
    agree, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone somewhere has at
    least proposed it.

    --
    Paul Sture

    Sue's OpenVMS bookmarks:
    http://eisner.encompasserve.org/~stu...bookmarks.html

  18. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On 08/02/07 02:24, P. Sture wrote:
    > In article ,
    > Kilgallen@SpamCop.net (Larry Kilgallen) wrote:
    >
    >> In article , moroney@world.std.spaamtrap.com
    >> (Michael Moroney) writes:
    >>
    >>> Do you need a performance boost now? What kind of performance boost are
    >>> you likely to need in the future?

    >> Note that there are some domains where no performance boost is needed.
    >> The best example I have heard of is the software reading toll tickets
    >> on toll roads. That is a case where the bandwidth of the road is never
    >> going to increase enough to tax the computer capacity. And I am quite
    >> careful before I use the word "never".

    >
    > Putting a GUI on it would probably do the trick. Totally unnecessary I
    > agree, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone somewhere has at
    > least proposed it.


    Don't even go there.

    We had a beautifully fast system written in C, Rdb & DECforms. The
    customer wanted GUI and 3-tier C-S, though, object-oriented
    middleware, blah blah. So that's what they got.

    God, I hate customers. Especially government customers who couldn't
    find their arses with both hands.

    --
    Ron Johnson, Jr.
    Jefferson LA USA

    Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.
    Hit him with a fish, and he goes away for good!

  19. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On Aug 1, 10:13 pm, JF Mezei wrote:
    > Another possible avenue if the Alpha maintenance costs are too high
    > would be to consider buying 64 bit 8086 servers and running the Alpha
    > emulator (*). This will eventually give you performance boosts compared
    > to exists systems without the need to migrate to that IA64 thing.
    >


    Unlike PDP, VAX, and Alpha servers, most 8086 based stuff (64 bit or
    not) has been manufactured dirt-cheap and very rarely supports server-
    quality features like hardware-based error-detection on memory, caches
    and I/O channels. On top of this, DEC systems could always do single-
    bit (and sometimes 2-bit) error correction in memory.

    ps-1: PC motherboards supporting parity exist but most of the time
    parity-checking is disabled and only 8-bit chips are installed

    ps-2: A few months back I watched a technician "fix a problem" by
    disabling partity-checking in BIOS. Some people just don't get it.

    So I wouldn't recommend a permanent PC/emulator solution at this time.
    But there are plenty of new and used Alpha systems available from
    multiple sources so if people can't move to Itanium then they should
    just move to a bigger better Alpha while wait until Itanium supports
    all the stuff you need.

    Neil Rieck
    Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge,
    Ontario, Canada.
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/


  20. Re: Stay on Alpha forever?

    On Aug 2, 12:34 am, moro...@world.std.spaamtrap.com (Michael Moroney)
    wrote:
    [...snip...]
    >
    > Most of the VMS porting from Alpha to Itanic _is_ very straightforward
    > when using a higher level language.
    >
    > On the other hand, if you're going from VAX to Itanic, and using Macro,
    > and doing just about every crazy trick possible...let's not go there...
    >


    Do yourself a favour and start converting your Macro-32 code to C/C++
    now.

    I did two ports from VAX to Alpha between 1999-2001. The VAX-BASIC
    stuff was straight forward although I decided to rewrite some code
    produced by some less disciplined programmers; I was slowed down a
    little more by converting "some highly tweaked VAX-C code to DEC-C"
    and "Macro-32 code to DEC-C". Now that the hard work is done I expect
    a port from Alpha to Itanium should be fairly easy.

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/docs/alpha_diary.html

    Neil Rieck
    Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge,
    Ontario, Canada.
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/


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