Stromasys has been selling its emulator products for more than a decade, and with significant success since HP's Digital group stopped the sale of Alpha and PDP servers. But VMS -- even while it's made a transition to OpenVMS over the years -- is still updated and supported by Hewlett-Packard. MPE/iX does not enjoy this status. There's a bit of irony by now, as it relates to the Stromasys product. You cannot order an MPE/iX server (with hardware and a fresh OS license) from HP any longer. But the Stromasys Charon HPA software is now part of HP's Worldwide Reseller Agreement.
Yes, this new software product that runs on industry-standard Intel hardware qualifies for HP resale status, unlike the server which it emulates. Go figure; nobody wants to be bothered with building hardware anymore.
But the lack of a supported OS as a keystone to a Stromasys emulator -- well, that seems novel. However, at the recent Training Day for the product, GM Bill Driest said selling a product with a vendor-curtailed OS is not all that unique, in his view.
"We don't see this market as fundamentally different from what we've done for a number of years now, to get 5,000 customers in 50 countries," Driest said on May 10 at the Training. "From a sales and marketing perspective, this is our US launch. I have a handful of customers in the US, so we are just embarking on this new market for us, worldwide. There are existing references and customers in Australia, New Zealand."
But from a tactical perspective, he said, those Digital system successes have taken place with an OS that's not available: the apps use versions of VMS that are locked in and not qualified for any extra engineering HP adds to that OS. This is, he believes, essentially the same situation as an MPE/iX market that can go no further than the 7.5 release.
While the replacement of aging hardware used to be the concern just five years ago, now the prospects for Charon in the 3000 world "are looking for partners, ISVs and consultants to take over more of the application administrator role. There's a revitalization of the important of the app to be done here. They'll be saving the hundreds of thousand to millions of dollars to rewrite that application."
It's a conscious decision to not let an app retire, Driest added. It's a choice so common up to now that the Digital customers start with a plan to emulate temporarily. Then the reality of replacing an app sets in.
"Customers say they just need their systems a couple more years, and they have a plan to migrate," he said. "But once the monkey's off their back, they realize they have other higher priorities for their IT resources. Rarely do you see them reinvesting in a multimillion dollar project once they realize they can run their application successly in an emulation on industry standard technology.
"They're not coming to us anymore and saying 'Can you fix my HP 3000 hardware?' That's what we thought they were saying five to 10 years ago. We understand that the value is in that application layer. We're just a new hardware refresh. And our average deal size has not been about onesy-twosy sale in testing or development. There's organic growth in legacy systems, new opportunities out there. I wouldn't have predicted that five years ago."