A Possible AS/400 Emulation and Runtime Environment
June 28, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
I was poking around on the news wires on Friday, trying to find something interesting to write about on a pretty boring news day and stumbled across an announcement from a small software company in Geneva, Switzerland, called Stromasys that might be able to bring some alternatives to customers using vintage AS/400 iron if we can
Here’s the deal. In the wake of the formerly independent Compaq’s acquisition in 1998 of the equally formerly independent Digital Equipment Corp (both of which were borged into Hewlett-Packard nearly a decade ago), a bunch of executives who ran DEC’s European Migration and Porting center in the Alps bought out the business and its intellectual property and created Stromasys, ultimately resulting in a binary translators for VAX VMS platforms called Charon. The VMS installed base in commercial settings rivaled that of the System/36, System/38, and AS/400, and the company has 3,000 Charon licenses of its VMS emulation programs running today on X64-based servers, often atop a VMware ESX Server hypervisor.
Last week, Stromasys expanded out beyond its VAX and AlphaServer VMS target customer base, adding products that emulate Oracle‘s Sparc/Solaris and HP’s HP 3000 proprietary minicomputer platforms. Sybil/SS20 is the name of the Sparc virtual hardware platform, which emulates a SparcStation 20 workstation on X64 iron and allows applications compiled for a SparcStation 5, 10, or 20 workstation to be run atop a hardware abstraction layer. Robert Boers, the founder of Stromasys and its chief technology officer, launched the Sun product at HP’s Tech Forum in Las Vegas last week, and said his company was working on another product, called Sybil/E450, which will emulate Sun’s workgroup servers atop X64 iron, allowing server applications to be hosted. The plan is for this much more useful emulation environment to be in beta during the first quarter of 2011.
Stromasys also said that it was in the development phases of another product, called Zelus, which will create a virtual HP 3000 server on top of X64 iron, allowing for MPE/iX operating systems and their applications and systems programs to run unmodified on top of the emulator. Stromasys says that its MPE/iX licenses already allow for the code to be run atop HP 3000 emulators.
Why stop there? Whatever these propellerheads at Stromasys can do for VAX/VMS, Sparc/Solaris, and HP 3000/MPE, they can do for AS/400 and iSeries and OS/400 and i5/OS. I am not clear about how the OS/400 licenses would transfer. But I kind of like the sound of SybilLake/400. . . .
If you think this is a good idea, contact Boers or John Pritchard, Stromasys’ chief executive officer, and let them know they forgot what is probably a much bigger and grumpier customer base. Maybe they will get to work on an AS/400 emulator. (For all I know, they have plans for one. Geneva was asleep by the time I found this story.) And if they work on it, we can probably make the two of them rich because IBM will almost certainly buy them rather than let such a product loose on the market. Or sue them out of existence.
Yeah, I know. I am too young to be that cynical.