CHARON™-VAX Saves Millions for Trend Windows


All of Trend Windows & Doors critical operating systems – including product design, manufacturing, and sales, were reliant on an aging DEC VAX 7840 VMS server released in the mid 1970s. It had reached capacity, and since the cost of rewriting all the company’s operational systems would have run into millions of dollars, Trend was considering the purchase and commissioning of a second aging VAX system in order to increase capacity, while retaining their current software applications. While this would have been a less costly solution, there were concerns that a second system might incur unforseen teething problems or fail to deliver the promised improvement in processing capacity, both negative outcomes that could have compromised the company’s manufacturing or sales operations. There was also concern about the large footprint of an additional VAX system and the cost of an enlarged operating environment at Trend’s Girraween headquarters in Sydney. Trend also felt the need for a modern storage solution that would not have been compatible with the old VAX legacy system.

The Opportunity

Trend’s long-time IT supplier, Oriel Technologies, approached UBS Solutions to evaluate CHARON-VAX as a virtual VAX environment that would enable all current VAX applications to run unchanged on a modern server, while also enabling much higher processing speeds and ensuring capacity for future expansion. The challenge was to deliver a legacy system migration project to move the Trend applications to another platform without changing user interaction, code in the application, access to Rdb on Windows, and a number of LAT connected devices used within the manufacturing process. Unlike other virtual VAX systems available, CHARON-VAX is the only solution capable of creating an exact replication of the current VAX system, rather than attempting to imitate the VAX applications on other platforms.

The Discovery

Because of the strong Oriel Technologies relationship with HP, HP agreed to provide the facilities of their testing room for a month in order to test the operation of Trend’s current VAX software through the CHARON overlay, which was installed on a new HP server. Thanks to this exhaustive testing, the decision to install CHARON-VAX was a low-risk one. As Trend IT Manager Ray Schroder commented, “the CHARON-VAX product was proved to be all it had claimed to be and it has been working for us very, very well more than three years now.”

The Implementation

Geoff Lang of UBS, who has facilitated more than 120 CHARON-VAX migrations in Australia, has never yet encountered any major problem during this process. He recalls that management of the CHARON-VAX implementation project was accomplished by Oriel with support from UBS over a single weekend with minimal downtime. Minor hardware connectivity issues that arose due to the aging hardware were dealt with easily and the project was completed on time and within budget with minimal impact to the business and the end users. The migration to a new AMD based HP Proliant DL385 server also facilitated the addition of storage and other modern functions which were incompatible with the old VAX hardware.

The Results

Trend IT Manager Ray Schroder concurs that the migration of the Trend Windows legacy software to the new high speed operating environment has proved to be very successful. The result is a fully functioning, identically performing OpenVMS application on a segmented network and Trend Windows now use their Virtual VAX/VMS Server with their critical business application every day. The current CHARON-VAX system is expected to remain in place for another 10 years and if a performance boost is required in the future, the CHARON software can simply be upgraded with a few minutes outage. The system also streamlines the nightly backup operation, now accomplished in minutes instead of the hours taken by the legacy system. As an added bonus, the transfer of the operating software from the aging VAX server to the new HP server also resulted in a major reduction in the cost of the operating environment, which was physically moved from the in-house facility at Girraween to a hosted space within Telstra’s Sydney hosting facility. This not only ensures greater operating security for Trend, but also frees up a significant amount of overhead in Trend’s corporate headquarters in terms of rent, power, and carbon footprint.

About Stromasys

Stromasys SA is a privately held company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, serving thousands of users in more than 50 countries. Stromasys develops and markets Cross-Platform Virtualization solutions that allow owners of PDP, VAX, and Alpha computers to continue to run their business-critical applications unchanged on modern, industry standard computer systems. Stromasys SA was established in 1998 as part of a management buyout of DEC’s (Digital Equipment Corporation) European Migration and Porting centre following the HP/Compaq merger. The vast experience gained from years of large-scale migration and porting projects, System-level VMS engineering projects, and development of Binary translators eventually led to the development of the CHARON-VAX and CHARON-AXP products. For more information, please visit