Interview with Brian Schenkenberger

It has been several months since HP announced their agreement with VMS Software Incorporated (VSI).  What were your initial thoughts when you heard the announcement?

When HP first acquired VMS, I though that it would be a positive turn for the future of VMS; however, that early perception proved out to be a misconception.  VMS was just excess baggage that HP was ready to toss out of the ship to lighten its load.

In contrast, VSI consciously went after VMS to acquire it.  I know many of the key players at VSI and therefore, I’m now feeling much better about the end game for VMS!


What are you thinking now, after Boot Camp and having met with VSI and some of the community?

See my comment above.  I’ve known many of the key players encompassing VSI.  They are former VMS engineers and I believe that they have and will take great pride in VMS now that it’s back in their clutches.


Based on what you know what would you count as VSI’s key strengths?

The team and its experience.


What weakness have they inherited and what weaknesses are inherent in their position?

The size of their team.  There’s much work to do in VMS and I only hope that they can do it all.


Where do you see the great opportunity for OpenVMS growth, if at all?

Broadening its supported system architectures.  X86, albeit I’m not really enamored of X86, support will help by getting VMS onto a more widely accepted architecture.  For better or worse, that’s what may open future doors for VMS.


What are the biggest risks facing VSI and the user community?

I see a Sisyphean task in their path.  That is, overcoming the many years of neglect by VMS’s former owners.  One of the things VSI will need to do is fly the VMS flag and fly it high.  The old addage about the better mouse trap won’t hold true unless the world knows it exists. Marketing/Advertisement will be needed and, sadly, those things will take money and, quite possibly, money away from the engineering efforts.


How do you react to the statement, “The oldest thing in most OpenVMS shops is the development process, not the software or hardware?”

No comment.


Cell phone makers realized long ago that they needed happy productive developers in order to win the market. Do you think the quality of the development experience has a similar affect in the enterprise space?

I don’t know.  I don’t and I WON’T own a mobile communications device.


What tools and capabilities would make the biggest difference in the future success of OpenVMS and VSI?

The most important tool?  Education.  I’m sick and tired of hearing that VMS is too difficult to develop for/on.  My experience is that those who make such claims know very little VMS.  I’ve seen some abhorrently ugly product code in my days and all because the developers knew so little of the VMS operating system, its unique features and its myriad APIs. Those products’ developers were happy to kludge together systems to get their products functioning but those kludges could have been unnecessary had they know more about the environment to which they were targeting their product.

FWIW, it’s NOT VMS’s fault nor that of its present or former caretakers. It’s a problem with the parochial languages that many of these products have been developed with.


What role will a flexible OpenVMS IDE, such as NXTware Remote, play in the future success of OpenVMS?

No comment other than if that’s how toady’s programmers are developing today’s applications, then it’s very likely that an IDE would, to some extent, help to bolster development on VMS.  I, myself, have never had any issues with the VMS tools I use now for VMS software development.


What advice would you give companies about their use of OpenVMS, especially those on the fence about the future of OpenVMS in their environment?

Stay the course until there is no course.


Some say perception is reality. How can developers change how corporate management perceives OpenVMS?

Only medical “science” can correct that.  Until such a time when Brain transplantation is a reality, management will continue to make up its mind based upon the color glossies it sees in print in magazines and its want to avoid not doing what the competition is doing.  There are, as far as I am concerned, very few mavericks in corporate IT management today.


What are your greatest hopes for the platform and OpenVMS community?

Total world domination but that’s only a plot for the majority of James Bond movies.  I’d hope for, and be happy just to see, no further erosion of the VMS user base.