Long-time users of VMS (which probably most customers, actual or
potential, of VSI are) remember how VMS was neglected towards the end of
DEC, how it was neglected at Compaq, neglected at HP, and ran out of
steam at HPE. Without exception, all are extremely happy that VSI
exists. However, based on past experience, there is the real fear that
if, for whatever reason, VSI ceases to exist, then they will not be
able to continue to run their systems. That is a real fear. It is
enough to make some leave VMS sooner, while they can still port in
peace, rather than later, when they are forced to. Yes, later might not
happen, but it is a possibility which has to be taken into account.
To a lesser extent, there is the problem of the captive customer.
Regardless of how realistic the alternative is, avoiding that is one of
Linux's main selling points. It is hard enough to justify purchasing
VMS licenses to people who don't know what VMS is (but are calling the
shots). If it is a one-time fee for a perpetual license, experience
shows that it can be done. However, if it is an annual fee, with the
potential to increase greatly in the future, it will be more difficult,
since there is only the alternative of paying it or leaving VMS. Of
course, to a lesser extent that problem also exists for support
contracts, but theoretically someone else could offer support, and
running without support is at least possible while running without a
license is not.
Wearing my hobbyist hat, the hobbyist licenses were always terminated
and the programme itself was can-go-away-at-any-time. Not ideal, but if
one is not paying for it then one can't complain. But commercial
licenses are very, very different. I really think that the decision not
to issue perpetual licenses might actually kill VMS. It might even
impact hobbyists. Of course, many hobbyists run hardware and software
which is no longer supported, but with legal transfers of perpetual
licenses, or buying new ones in time, that is possible. It won't be if
there are no perpetual licenses. Of course, I doubt that there will be
a VSI hobbyist programme if there is no commercial programme at VSI.
VSI should escalate this issue up to top management, and listen to real
users of VMS. I started using VMS in 1992, when it was very common in
academia. (I even bought a new AlphaStation 255/233 with my own money
where I moved to an institute which didn't offer me VMS.) Even DEC
essentially gave up on that market. I've been using it continuously
since then, have had my own cluster since 1997, and a hobbyist cluster
at home since 2001. For 20 years, I worked at the German stock exchange
in Frankfurt, with VMS and Rdb. The stock exchange used to be a big VMS
customer. It still is, to some extent, though now moving away from VMS.
True, the decision to move away from VMS was made before VSI came into
existence, but VSI haven't managed to reverse that trend (as far as I
know; I took paid voluntary early retirement at the end of last year).
There is thus a history of VMS losing markets (academia, former big
customers in the financial and health-care worlds) basically due to bad
marketing decisions. Many people were hopeful when VSI was launched,
but it seems that now there is a return to bad marketing decisions. I
think it is fair to say that if VSI fails with VMS, then it is gone for
good, and that would be a real shame.