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Legacy VAX and Alpha hardware are the backbone of many of the UK’s leading companies. Decades of investment has gone into developing propriety VMS and Tru64 applications, and those applications represent key competitive advantages for the organisations that created them.

Redevelopment is in 99% of cases completely impractical. These applications have been refined over the years to such an extent that the cost of reprogramming is prohibitive – even if it were possible to create something comparable that runs on a server.

However, living day-to-day with the impending risk of failing equipment should not be a viable option for any company. VAX and Alpha have proved their longevity with lifespans that put modern hardware to shame. However, the fact remains that most companies that rely on VAX and Alpha would find themselves in dire straights in the event of failure. One client once (only half jokingly) told me that he says a rosary every time he walks past his cluster!

Companies should not be operating their IT on a hope and a prayer in this manner, especially when migration is a failsafe solution that requires no system down time. I am fully aware that various stakeholders need convincing when it comes to moving to an emulated system – it’s a big step and it is natural that people are concerned about the effects. I firmly believe that the real risk is in doing nothing – in no other area of business would companies endure this sort of perpetuated risk when such a simple and effective solution exists.