Hewlett Packard (HP) has ported OpenVMS to Itanium 2, giving users hope for the operating system after the Alpha chip disappears.
The breakthrough, made by HP engineers at the end of last week, is good news for OpenVMS users as the company is in the process of moving all its server product lines to Intel's Itanium processor.
Gary Kerrison, Unix and OpenVMS marketing manager at HP, said: "This is fantastic news and it does demonstrate to OpenVMS users [it has] a future."
However, Kerrison stressed that this is only the first step towards full availability of OpenVMS on Itanium.
"We are expecting first customer revenue from this early next year, and later this year we will be releasing early adopter versions of OpenVMS on Itanium for our software vendors to see how good it is and for them to develop solutions. It will fully come to market in 2004," he explained.
Kerrison claimed that there are "thousands" of OpenVMS users in the UK, particularly in the healthcare, finance, manufacturing and government sectors.
"OpenVMS is used by customers that need security and reliability," he said.
HP will provide a number of tools, translators where possible and source code to help customers make the transition to Itanium "when it's best for them".
IDC analyst Dan Kuznetsky said that booting the operating system is just the beginning of a long process.
"System software, device drivers, serverware, middleware, development and deployment tools, and applications all have to be ported to provide a complete and usable environment for developers and end-user organisations," he said.
Kuznetsky pointed out that the VMS installed base had already been forced to make a hardware platform transition when DEC moved from VAX to Alpha-based systems.
"DEC provided a number of powerful tools, including an 'application compiler' which would take a VAX/VMS application's executable image and compile it into an Alpha/VMS image," he explained.
"This tool made the transition a bit easier for those using custom software. HP has not announced plans for making a new version of this tool available.
The analyst indicated that users of packaged application software, such as that provided by Oracle, will have to wait to see what their suppliers will do.
Kuznetsky warned that it is possible that these users will be told to run those applications on another hardware platform, supplied by another vendor, rather than continue using a VMS version of that software.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago