Wang VS

The Wang VS Community

11 Nov 2009

What are our backup options using the New VS?

Almost too many! The most exciting New VS feature in support of backups is Integrated Virtual Tape. This feature allows you to write backups to virtual tape image files in a library. Tape image files, once created, no longer suffer from tape read errors, so your tapes remain readable essentially forever.

The Integrated Virtual Tape feature provides for virtual tape drives to be configured, and to redirect input and output VS tape operations to/from virtual tape image files. Files in the virtual tape library are identified by VS tape volume ID. Thus, any present system of globally unique tape IDs can be duplicated in the virtual tape library. Futher, each virtual tape drive can optionally utilize a different library, allowing you to maintain multiple sets of globally unique tape volume IDs. To put VS backups in context, you will continue to be responsible for backing up individual VS volumes because no form of
system-wide backup can provide for restoring individual VS volumes, libraries or files. You will not, however, have to back up
to physical tape on the New VS. You will probably make backups to virtual tape, stored either in the RAID in the New VS or in
external storage. You will have many options, though:

  • Back up VS volumes to physical DAT72 or LTO3 tape on the New VS (now the least desirable option)
  • Back up VS volumes to virtual tape images stored internally in the New VS
  • Back up VS volumes to virtual tape images stored externally, outside the New VS
  • Back up VS volumes to virtual tape images stored on removable disk in the New VS
  • Back up VS volumes disk-to-disk followed by other form of transfer of the backed-up volume
  • Nightly replication of VS volumes to a backup or Disaster Recovery New VS
  • Real time replication of VS volumes to another New VS system (planned)
  • Back up the entire server using a third-party enterprise backup package
  • Back up the base RAID array using our "bare metal" backup
  • Back up the entire server using our "bare metal" backup

11 Nov 2009

Will we need to modify or recompile our applications on the New VS?

No. All your programs will run without any changes.

11 Nov 2009

Will compilers generate exactly the same code as they do on our legacy Wang VS?

Yes. Everything works exactly the same on the New VS as it does on the legacy Wang VS. You might, of course, end up with newer versions of compilers and utilities. Upgrade of your licensed VS software products is part of the New VS install.

11 Nov 2009

Will we be able to update or upgrade VS software after we move to the New VS?

The VS OS and all system software continues to be supported and new versions released from time to time. The VS software in your New VS will be upgradable just as the software in your legacy Wang VS was always upgradable.

11 Nov 2009

How official is the New VS? What about licensed VS software?

The New VS is the official new generation of Wang VS. It is sanctioned and certified by the VS group in Compucom in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, home of the VS.

11 Nov 2009

Will we be able to use PACE on the New VS?

Yes. PACE works exactly the same on the New VS as it does on the legacy Wang VS.

11 Nov 2009

Our Wang VS has no vulnerability to viruses or worms. What about the New VS?

Your system will continue to be secure after you move to the New VS. The New VS uses Linux merely as the basis of an appliance. VS users do not log into Linux and the system generally runs no servers. The system runs just one application -- the virtual VS -- and that application offers no general services to the network.

11 Nov 2009

What is a typical server configuration for the New VS?

We generally use Dell PowerEdge servers although we are working to qualify IBM xSeries servers as well. A typical configuration consists of:

  • 2.97 GHz or better Dual or Quad Core Processor with QuickPath Interconnect

    More processor cores do not necessarily help. The virtual VS uses one processor core and its I/O threads use another. Additional processor cores are essentially wasted and will not contribute to better or more efficient performance of the virtual VS. The main reason for using a Quad Core is that it may be the only type of processor available that offers the required speed. The industry is moving in the direction of more cores.

  • 2 GB or more of mirrored 1333 MHz memory

    The memory must be mirrored, with usable memory no less than 2 GB. Each server has a specification of how many DIMM memory modules must be installed in order to enable memory mirroring. If that number results in having more than 2 GB of mirrored memory, that is OK.

    Generally, more memory is better and will increase the file buffering that Linux does, thus reducing the latency of disk file operations. It's also the case that very large systems may call for more memory than smaller systems.

  • Embedded, Integrated PERC RAID with 256 MB cache and battery backup

    This is an integrated feature of the Dell PowerEdge. It is not a standard plug-in card. It is vitally important to have battery backup for the RAID cache, otherwise disk corruption could occur if power is removed from the server.

  • DRAC enterprise remote access card

    Remote access is part of the minimum specification of the server. This is how the software is installed in cases of overseas sites where onsite installation is not done. It is also how support is provided in cases where Linux is damaged or otherwise not behaving correctly. Constant remote access is not required; but it must be available during install and if and when support is required.

  • Dual hot-swap power supplies
  • SCSI host bus adapter (HBA) for tape drive(s)

    Although physical tape is being used less and less, we still usually configure a tape drive on most New VS systems, especially where the ability to read existing tapes exists.

  • RD1000 removable disk drive bay

    The removable disk drive bay is used for "bare metal" backup and restore and optionally for backups that may easily be removed from the system for off-site storage. It is also used to clone the newly installed production system in order to make a backup or DR system. It can further be used to transport replicated volumes from the production system to the backup or DR system.

  • DAT72 or LTO3 tape drive

    The default tape drive for New VS systems is the DAT72, which has a capacity of 36 GB uncompressed and up to 72 GB compressed. It may be used for straightforward VS volume backups to tape, may be used for "bare metal" backup and restore, and may be used to read DDS-3 or DDS-4 or DAT72 tapes containing archival data or data being moved from the legacy Wang VS.

    Large systems with a large RAID array may call for an LTO3 tape drive, which has a capacity of 400 GB uncompressed and up to 800 GB compressed. It may be used in all the same ways as the DAT72 but will use fewer tapes for large operations, due to its greater capacity.

  • Hot-swap SAS disk drives in RAID configuration(s)

    Serial Attach SCSI (SAS) drives are the most suitable for the New VS. We do not use SATA drives.

    The smallest New VS systems have a single RAID1 (mirror) array containing Linux, the virtual VS software, and all the virtual VS volume images. Larger systems may have an additional RAID1 array, and the largest systems will have a RAID5 array in addition to the base RAID1 array. The base RAID1 array is as small as possible, to facilitate "bare metal" backup and restore. If there are multiple RAID arrays the base RAID1 will contain Linux, the virtual VS software, and one or more IPL volume images, with additional VS volume images located in the secondary array. This provides for bare metal restore to put in place the files necessary to boot Linux and to IPL the virtual VS.

  • Optional external RAID and dual servers

    Extreme reliability requirements may call for storing the VS volumes in an external RAID with dual controllers and access from dual servers, eliminating single points of failure. This is not normally required.

  • Optional duplicate backup or Disaster Recovery server

    Some customers wish to have a duplicate backup or DR system to decrease the Time to Recovery in the event of a serious failure. Such a duplicate system must be ordered at the same time as the production system in order to ensure that the two machines are in fact the same, with identical motheboards and chipsets. The server offerings change frequently, and it may be impossible to obtain a truly duplicate machine at a later time.

  • Dedicated local UPS

    Uninterrupted power (via a UPS) is vital to a system that performs significant memory buffering and caching of data. Site UPS is not sufficient to provide the highest level of uninterrupted power for two reasons: First, site UPSs can and do fail. Second, the power path between a site UPS and the server is likely to be long and subject to interruption. A small, dedicated UPS located immediately adjacent to the server is the best measure to ensure the highest level of uninterrupted power.

11 Nov 2009

Is onsite installation available?

Yes. Onsite installation is available in the United States and around the world. It is an extra-cost option and is based on sending a technician from one of our U.S. facilities to the installation site.

04 Dec 2009

We are outside the United States. How will you install our system?

For U.S. customers we purchase the server and prepare it at one of our facilities in the U.S., then reship it to the customer site. Onsite install is optional. For overseas customers the customer or his agent procures the server to our specifications and we either remotely install the software or perform an onsite install.

NOTE: We are now transitioning to a new mode of preparing systems for overseas customers. Starting soon, overseas systems will be procured and prepared in the United States and reshipped to our overseas customers. Final install can be completed remotely with customer participation or we can provide full onsite install anywhere in the world.

11 Nov 2009

Who sells the New VS?

The New VS is exclusively sold by TransVirtual Systems. This is as a result of the termination of legacy Wang VS support and appointment of TransVirtual Systems as the exclusive reseller of the technology by Getronics in July, 2008. Additionally, in August, 2008, Getronics North America was sold by the owner, KPN, to Compucom, a U.S.-based IT firm, thus severing all connections between Getronics and the VS.

The USI utilities, Back Burner, Over Easy with Eggshell and Short Order, are relicensed for the New VS by Compucom.

Lightspeed is licensed by Lightspeed NVS, part of the TransVirtual family of companies. There is one authorized reseller in Sweden, serving the European community.

11 Nov 2009

Who supports the New VS?

TransVirtual provides first-level support for the New VS and in-depth support for Linux and the virtual VS software. Compucom provides support for the VS Operating System and all optional licensed VS software products that do not originate with third parties.

The USI utilities, Back Burner, Over Easy with Eggshell and Short Order, continue to be supported by Compucom.

Lightspeed is supported by Lightspeed NVS, part of the TransVirtual family of companies. There is one authorized reseller in Sweden, serving the European community, authorized to provide Lightspeed support. Getronics is not an authorized reseller of Lightspeed and is not authorized to provide Lightspeed support, updates or upgrades.

11 Nov 2009

We'd like to stay on our legacy Wang VS. Why shouldn't we do that?

Good luck. Support for the legacy VS was discontinued in July, 2008. With the exception of some very pricey ongoing maintenance contracts issued out of Tewksbury there is no official support for the legacy Wang VS, and supported parts are not generally available. Stocks of spare parts in the hands of third party maintainers are mostly old, not having been manufactured in the last 10-20 years. Although the legacy Wang VS has enjoyed an exceptional record of reliability, everything eventually gets old and begins to malfunction. So it is with the legacy VS.

The New VS is a no-brainer. It replaces any legacy VS quickly efficiently, with no risk. In contrast, VS conversions have an awful track record of high cost and risk of failure. Even when nominally successful, VS conversions have almost always fallen short of the functionality and ease of use of the VS systems they replaced. Some have crashed and burned. It is not unusual that VS customers attempting conversions have spent millions to replace a system with a value of only low six figures.

11 Nov 2009

Getronics say they can maintain our legacy VS. What about that?

Anyone can claim to be able to maintain anything. The fact is that since the sale of Getronics North America by KPN to Compucom in August, 2008, remaining Getronics entities worldwide have had no more connection to the VS or to the source of supported parts and software, which come from the VS group in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Various Getronics entities no doubt have some stocks of spare parts, but most of those parts were manufactured 10-20 years ago and are as old as the machines being maintained. Getronics is now just another third party maintainer. They had the better part of five years in which to have promoted and sold the New VS, but they didn't do it. Now they want to keep customers on an aging, failing platform in
order to make money at the expense of customers making the wise decision to upgrade to the New VS. In the end only those
customers can decide what is the intelligent thing to do, but they should do it in the light of full information.

11 Nov 2009

Getronics is trying to sell us an Oracle conversion. What about that?

If you want to utterly destroy all the features and benefits of using your VS, sure, go ahead and convert your system to Oracle. It will only cost you a very expensive Oracle license, the price of a beefy Oracle server, and breathtaking fees for the conversion itself. What you end up with will not be a VS, will not look like a VS, and will not behave like a VS. You will have to retrain your people and pay for one or more database administrators. You will probably not be able to retrain your programmers and will have to replace them with database programmers. The conversion will take considerable calendar time and require risky project management to have any chance of success. All of that when you
could upgrade to a New VS in a matter of mere days, with no retraining, retaining full VS functionality, and zero risk
of failure.

We have been watching VS customers do various kinds of conversions in the last 20+ years. We know of no completely successful conversions but we know of many partially or completely failed conversions. In all cases, enormous amounts of money have been wasted on VS conversions. Before the New VS, the alternative was to upgrade to a more powerful model of VS at a completely predictable cost and with no risk of failure. Now that the New VS is the current generation of VS, the alternative is to upgrade to the New VS at a completely predictable cost, with no risk of failure. In both cases the upgrade involves essentially no cost in calendar time, as it takes place the same day or within a few days.

In more than 20 years we have never heard a very good justification for any VS conversion but we have witnessed many VS customers spending many times what a simple upgrade to a more powerful model of VS would have cost. In the worst cases we have seen VS customers spend $10-20 million to replace a VS, and in some cases the conversions have crashed and burned, the money utterly wasted.

If a customer is bound and determined to listen to the wrong advice and embark on a costly conversion, all we can say is, "Knock yourself out." Have a ball throwing your money away. Meanwhile we will be upgrading intelligent customers to the New VS in mere days, retaining full VS functionality, with zero conversion and zero retraining. The difference between a conversion and upgrading to the New VS is like the different between night and day. The New VS is truly a no-brainer.

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