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Going Green and Saving Green with Charon-VAX

WorkflowOne Saves Both Energy and Money


After acquiring The Relizon Company, WorkFlowOne became one of the largest providers of end-to-end document management solutions in North America, with over 5,000 employees and more than 25,000 customers.

New IT services and software were needed to support the restructured company. With the data center's UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and floor space near capacity, the IT organization needed to find solutions that was smaller, more energy and heat efficient, higher performance, and with lower maintenance costs.

One mission-critical system was a VAXcluster with 2 VAX 7000-series servers and a large amount of legacy storage. The cluster was responsible for a large portion of the data center's power and floor space usage and heat load. Replacing the OpenVMS environment with commodity hardware and new software would be cost and labor intensive, and would require retraining 50 employees before the VAX hardware could be removed.

The Solution

WorkFlowOne contacted Quayle Consulting, a long-time Stromasys reseller, to discuss the feasibility of using Charon-VAX to replace their legacy VAX hardware with modern, more efficient and cist-effictive comodity hardware while continuing to run their existing applications.

Stanley Quayle, the owner of Quayle Consulting, consulted remotely with the WorkFlowOne IT team to create a proof of concept (POC) that demonstrated that the WorkFlowOne applications would successfully run under Charon-VAX with significantly better performance than on the native VAX hardware.

After the successful POC, WorkFlowOne decided to replace their production VAX systems with HP Prolient servers running the Microsoft Winows operating system with Charon-VAX emulating the VAX hardware.

After the new hardware was installed, the VAX software and data was copied to the new storage, which was the most time consuming part of the implementation. Because Charon-VAX emulates the VAX hardware precisely, the OpenVMS operatings system, application code, and data could be copied and used without modification.

The Hardware

The mission-critical OpenVMS system being replaced was a 2-node VAXclustter comprised of one VAX 7850 server (5 CPUs) and one VAX 7630 server (3 CPUs). In addition to the servers there was over 80GB of legacy storage.

The VAXcluster components (fig. 1) occupied 48 ft.2 of floor space and consumed over 9.3kW of power, generating 32,000 BTYs of heat per hour. Due in part to the age of the hardware and the availability/cost of replacement parts, maintenance expenses were approximately $110K per year.

Old VAX system
Fig. 1 - This VAX hardware ...
New Charon-VAX 
		system hardware
Fig. 2 - ... was replaced with this!

The VAXcluster hardware was replace by one rack-mounted HP Proliant server with an external disk array (fig. 2). The servers run the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system.

The new hardware configuration uses just 4U of rack space and consumes 600 Watts of power, generating slightly more than 2,000 BTUs of heat per hour. The total yearly maintenance expenses were reduced to $12K.

The Result

The following table shows how the new hardware compaes to the original VAX system on several key environmental and financial metrics:

Metric VAX
Charon-VAX Decrease
$110,000+ $12,000 87%
9,360 600 87%
31,937 2,038 89%
Footprint 48 ft.2 4U (in std. 19-in. rack)  

The table below shows the decrease in execution time for two key operations performed on the OpenVMS system.

Metric VAX
Charon-VAX Decrease
Full backup
12:33 1:41 87%
End of month
8:33 1:08 87%

The following email from WorkFlowOne's Data Center Operations manager Mark Gillespie to senior management provides a brief synopsis in the customer's words:

Here is some good news about the VAX migration. We figured our annual savings on the maintenance contract alone would be in the 100K range. This does not include the savings from electrical power or lower A/C use.

Annual cost before removing VAX equipment: $120,178.34
Annual cost with the equipment we have now: $14,787.84
Annual cost avoided: $105,390.50 (88%)


Impressed with the outcome of the primary server migration, WorkFlowOne purchased an additional license key for their disaster recovery system. With Charon-VAX, they can resume operation almost anywhere, without the need for VAX hardware.

Charon emulation is available for VAX, Alpha, SPARC, PDP-11, and HP 3000 systems.

To learn how Charon emulation can help you replace old legacy hardware with modern, fast, and efficient servers while preserving you application investment, contact Quayle Consulting today by clicking the button below!

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