Wellington City Council – Legacy VAX & Alpha Systems


Most of Wellington City Council’s IT system runs in a modern Windows environment, but rate payments, an important customer-facing service, were reliant on 20 year-old VAX and Alpha systems, which were close to the end of their useful lives. The Council’s IT department did not wish to incur the high cost of rewriting the software applications running on the original VAX and Alpha systems in order to transfer these functions, as well as the large amount of stored data that related to them to a new Windows environment, since all Council IT budgets were under pressure as a result of the current economic downturn. The challenge was to find a low-cost, yet highly efficient solution that would upgrade the aging legacy hardware, while adding a new level of back-up security in order to protect sensitive ratepayer data and financial records, including linking the functionality of the legacy system to a new HP EVA SAN and enabling data replication on a modern Disaster Recovery Site.

The Solution

After evaluating all available options, Wellington City Council System Architect Rob Buxton selected Stromasys’ CHARON-AXP and CHARON-VAX cross-platform virtualization software, supplied by United Business Solutions Professional Services (UBS) as the preferred solution. Their decision was based on the fact that CHARON software is the only solution capable of
creating an exact replication of the legacy VAX and AXP systems. Another important reason for choosing UBS was that Rod Buxton had the on-staff expertise and capacity to install the CHARON-AXP and CHARON-VAX software and manage the migration in-house, providing a significant cost savings.
Geoff Lang of UBS explains that while most CHARON-VAX and CHARON-AXP software is supplied and installed by UBS in partnership with the end user’s external IT Consultant or Supplier, there are end users who have the expertise to accomplish the migration in house and UBS is more than happy to work with them.
“Fortunately,” says Geoff, who successfully completed more than 120 CHARON migrations in Australia and New Zealand, “installation is relatively straightforward and trouble-free and any minor compatibility problems with the legacy system that may arise can usually be dealt with very quickly and easily.”
One important factor influencing Buxton’s decision to install the CHARON systems in-house was the fact that there was a reasonable time frame available to complete the project. This enabled Wellington Municipal Council to schedule staff to work on the installation and testing of the software over several weeks without creating an unnecessary strain on the IT Department’s normal operations. Once everything was in place, the actual migration was very quick and took place over only three hours on a Sunday.
“The important thing for us,” says Rob Buxton, “is that we were able to draw on as much help and advice from UBS as necessary, without incurring the costs of on-site service. They were always available at the end of the phone, and this was all the help we needed.”

The Results

Wellington City Council’s legacy software application has been successfully transferred to function in a modern Windows environment, and is now running on a new HP server that delivers measurable savings in rack space, energy consumption, cooling costs, and significantly reduced CO2 emissions.
The new system successfully emulates the legacy system without any changes to the application, user interfaces, data, and command files and there has been a problem-free transition to the new system by the Council’s customer-facing and data entry personnel. The system has also achieved a new level of backup security through an effective linkage to a modern HP EVA SAN that enables data replication on a modern Disaster Recovery Site to protect confidential ratepayer data and essential financial records.

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 www.stromasys.com.