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Digital Systems & Service Ltd

22 Hay Close - Great Oakley
Corby - Northamptonshire
NN18 8HX

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Economics of Emulation Solutions

Customer's who currently have VAX , PDP-11 and HP1000 processors running their business/production have already successfully extended their company's initial investment in Application software and the Plant infrastructure that it supports. That investment also includes any propriety software, (Operating System/Layered Products etc), and the processor hardware.

The Dilemma

With the passage of time these 'realtime' computer systems became unsupportable. This presented the respective industries/enterprises with the option of either 're-porting' to a different platform, and thereby loosing the investment represented by the Application Software, or retaining that investment by endeavouring to maintain the aging computer 'platform' by resorting to the 'Second User' marketplace.

The march of technology that precipitated the demise of the old platforms providentially also provided the means to maintain their Applications for the foreseeable future. And these 'solutions', rather than being perceived as competitive by those computer companies wishing to 'migrate' their customers away from the 'legacy' platforms, can now be incorporated into their strategic sales plan using PC products from the current catalogue.

The Solution

Emulation products allow the existing Application Software to run on modern PC/Server 'platforms' without the requirement to re-write any part of the original Application code. This aspect of 'Transparency' is fundamental for 'mission critical' installations. Hardware Emulation, rather than its Software counterpart, exactly meets the stringent requirement that 'realtime' systems must respond repeatedly and predictably to external events and hence preserve the 'Transparency' of operation. Hardware Emulation solutions are also more predictable to install since the 'Emulation engine' is incorporated in the co-processor board and therefore is not subject to the multiple iterative adjustments which characterise Software installations.

The Investment 'Stack'

VAX emulation and pdp -11 solutions

The Issues

The company's greatest investment is in the Application Software and the Plant Infrastructure it supports.
The propriety software (Operating System, Layered Products etc.), and the hardware 'platform' represent the lesser iinvestment of the 'stack' layers since these are typically supported by the computer OEM. And whereas the Operating System & Layered Products are not generally problematical, failure of the obsolescent hardware layer however represents a major 'at risk' threat to the entire Investment Stack.

The Alternatives

The strategies that present themselves to overcoming this threat of obsolescence are spread across the cost spectrum from  resorting to ‘Second User’ equipment, to the full Migration of the Application process onto a different ‘platform’.

The Alternatives (Second User)

Al though ostensibly the cheapest option The ' Second User ' solution presents its own set of risks in that the units which may be available today may not be in months/years to come, and of course, due to the obsolescence of components, there is still the ever present issue of serviceability and supportability for such units, including the highly important aspect of version level compatibility.

The Alternatives (Migrating the Process)

The Migration approach is at the opposite end of the cost spectrum to the 'Second User' solution. And given that the company may well have a very stable well proven process on which time/cost contracts depend, the attendant problems of iterative issues associated with migration may well be of greater risk to the company's business.

The Alternatives (Transparent Emulation)

The ' Transparent Emulation ' solution lays on the cost spectrum between that of the ' Second User ' and the ' Migration ' solutions. It is an elegant solution that allows the Application process to run, un-modified, on current pc 'platforms' that are supportable and can avail of emergent technology as it develops.

The Investment 'Stack' post 'Transparent Emulation'

VAX emulation and pdp -11 solutions