% fortune -ae paul murphy

From Chapter one: Data Processing and the IBM Mainframe

This is the 12th excerpt from the second book in the Defen series: BIT: Business Information Technology: Foundations, Infrastructure, and Culture

Note that the section this is taken from, on the evolution of the data processing culture, includes numerous illustrations and note tables omitted here.

Roots (Part Four: Touring a System 360 data center)

--- This is a virtual tour of a data processing center. There are several important things to note about this:

  1. The heavy use of unexplained acronyms as a distancing mechanism between those inside, and those outside, the data center. In this book the important ones are explained elsewhere, for this tour, just do what you'd do in real life: assume they'd mean something if you cared to ask;

  2. The secrecy surrounding costs and performance. IBM does not publish mainframe costs and does not benchmark the mainframe against anything other than its own earlier mainframes; and,

  3. The continuity of both management focus and technology from the mid sixties to today.


--- The Applications

The data center software library management system, which is used to keep track of applications, reports that the center currently runs 9,118 separate jobs, or applications, at least once per month.

Many of these amount to little more than copy or print jobs, but three major clusters run 24 x 7:

  1. The Customer Claims cluster includes applications used to look up customer claims information (mainly approval status and the like), to enter claims information remotely, and a workflow control system used to support clerical activity in claims processing.

  2. The Customer Order cluster has applications used to generate quotations, to generate contract documents, and to enter/review customer order information.

  3. The Financial Information Systems, originally licensed from Dun and Bradstreet but considerably augmented through internal development, including implementation of an MQSeries middleware switch to link it to the custom developed Payroll and Incentives system.

All three clusters were originally developed, or redeveloped, for CICS/IMS in a MVS/XA environment.

All offices have on-line access to both the claims and customer order services.

On average the customer claims system processes about 75,000 remote information requests per business day and manages the data flow on about 100,000 on-going claims approval processes. Similarly, the customer order cluster processes about 100,000 quotes or orders per business day and has around 1.4 million uncanceled quotations on line at any time.

Data center personnel run two company email systems. The public access system uses Microsoft Exchange and Windows desktop clients to provide email services to sales and claims offices. The executive collaboration service links management across the company using Lotus Domino servers running on Windows 2003/XP servers in the data center with Domino clients on Windows/XP clients on executive desktops.

You can get the flavor of the administrative formality by looking at the following applications catalog entry for the HR/Payroll and Commissions cluster:

HRICS provides employee/departmental self-service dedicated and 3278 access to Human Resource functions including Employment, Compensation, Insurance and Retirement, Equal Employment Reporting, Records (e.g., Service, Licensing, Biographical, Directory, Imaging), and Leave Management.

Provides management information retrieval and reporting capabilities for all departments.

HRIPS computes Payroll checks including current and pending commissions, manages deductibles, and provides all subsequent reports and data to all governmental, legislative, and banking bodies. Maintains and creates Budgetary Assessments for HR planning. MQ Interfaces to HRICS and DBGL support on line appointments documentation and General Journal Entry generation.

At present the data center has several major development initiatives in that:

  1. Data center technical staff are pursuing the move to 64Bit memory addressing with respect to the redevelopment of the main customer claims management system to use CICS/DB2 instead of CICS/IMS.

  2. A data warehousing project originally started on NT servers using SQL-Server 6.0 and now on Windows 2003/XP has recently been redesignated a mainframe service development project. Data center staff are working with two IBM websphere consultants on redeveloping this service as a web information portal built up on a DB2 warehouse services.

  3. Data center technical staff are completing, with the help of a number of contract personnel, the move from Token Ring networking to TCP/IP for staff workstations and access to the wide area network maintained by IBM Global Services.

  4. IBM has provided the data center with a demonstration z800-0E1 machine for a period of eight months rent free and several data center technical staff are working with Linux on this machine to determine whether it can effectively replace a number of Windows 2003 servers now maintained in the data center.

Some notes:

  1. These excerpts don't (usually) include footnotes and most illustrations have been dropped as simply too hard to insert correctly. (The wordpress html "editor" as used here enables a limited html subset and is implemented to force frustrations like the CPM line delimiters from MS-DOS).

  2. The feedback I'm looking for is what you guys do best: call me on mistakes, add thoughts/corrections on stuff I've missed or gotten wrong, and generally help make the thing better.

    Notice that getting the facts right is particularly important for BIT - and that the length of the thing plus the complexity of the terminology and ideas introduced suggest that any explanatory anecdotes anyone may want to contribute could be valuable.

  3. When I make changes suggested in the comments, I make those changes only in the original, not in the excerpts reproduced here.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.