Having reprieved DOS/VSE, IBM seeks new roles for it – but ensures there are limits The reprieve for venerable DOS/VSE (CI No 1,209), which gives the appearance that users will be able to continue running it with IBM support to the end of the century raises some new considerations for fast-growing users who have not […]
Having reprieved DOS/VSE, IBM seeks new roles for it – but ensures there are limits The reprieve for venerable DOS/VSE (CI No 1,209), which gives the appearance that users will be able to continue running it with IBM support to the end of the century raises some new considerations for fast-growing users who have not yet committed to moving up to MVS. IBM is clearly desperate to ensure that people do not regard its skinnier operating system as a viable alternative to MVS where job mix and types of workload do not really require the additional functionality of MVS, so users who start dreaming of running DOS/VSE on 3090-600s only they’d be able to get away with a 3090-180 because VSE is so much less greedy than MVS are likely to get a very dusty answer when they ask for support for things like the biggest disk drives. The concept however sounds heretical only to those whose ears have long been tuned to IBM: in Japan, NEC Corp has a similar mix of mainframe operating systems to IBM – except that NEC’s are incompatible at the hardware level because of their ancestry. NEC’s 32-bit mainframes run a version of what used to be called GCOS 64, emphatically a mid-range operating system in the same mould as DOS/VSE. Its 36-bit mainframes run an operating system originally derived from Honeywell’s old GCOS III, a top-end operating system that has lined up against MVS ever since MVS emerged from the chrysalis OS/VS 2.2. Yet not too long ago, NEC’s most powerful mainframe, right up in the IBM 3084 class, was in the 32-bit family running the derivative of GCOS 64. As with all things in the IBM world, it is a function of marketing, not of technology – or appropriateness – that users cannot grow with DOS/VSE indefinitely. Now that IBM has admitted the possibility that DOS/VSE users won’t roll over and play dead if it tries to pull the thing from under them, it is working to create new roles for the operating system so that there will be enough users out there to justify the investment needed to support the thing and continue development, and one key new role cast for the thing is as the control program for remote 9370s talking to an MVS host. Needless to say, that presents another problem for IBM: if people are going to run DOS/VSE on their distributed computers, what market will there be for DPPX/370, the operating system originally cast in that role? DPPX/370 is of course the lifeline thrown by IBM to users orphaned by the demise of the 8100, and while there are enough 8100s out there to keep upgrades to DPPX/370 ticking over for a year or three yet, IBM would really like to see the thing adopted by users who were too young to remember the 8100, so as to spread the cost of supporting and enhancing the thing. Once again, IBM’s embarras de richesses in venerable and disparate operating systems is proving much harder to rationalise than the company had hoped.
IBM creates a VSE Office by tying together string of existing programs
IBM has hastily added a VSE Office to join the other office automation suites – for MVS, VM, OS/400 and the PS/2 – cobbling it together from a series of existing products. VSE Office uses Personal Services/CICS to provide electronic mail, address book, filing cabinet, the word and document processing functions come from DisplayWrite/370, and the document library and distribution functions are provided by DisOSS/370. And to tie the whole lot together, there’s the VSE Office Productivity Facility. This provides dialogues for installation and customisation of the component programs, with improvements in input checking and saving and the help facility, and addition of backward and forward scrolling. The announcement adds support for Personal Services/CICS 1.3.1 and DisplayWrite/370 1.2.1, but these are separately priced. The VSE Office Productivity Facility costs $300 a month on a monthly licence basis or from $2,835 one-time charge on a baby 9370 to $15,120 on a 3090-600S – yes, you can create a giant VSE office automation system on IBM’s biggest mainframe if that is your fancy. It is available immediately in the U
S. MVS/Central Node Administration Tool for running distributed DOS/VSE nodesBe that as it may, in order to facilitate the use of DOS/VSE in its distributed role, IBM has come out with MVS/Central Node Administration Tool Release 1 or MVS/CNAT, an Interactive System Productivity Facility designed to be used at MVS hosts to assist in administering and managing nodes running VSE/SP. A utility for generating and submitting jobs to VSE nodes, it is designed to help the systems programmer responsible for centrally managing system and application software that is installed at VSE nodes, and it has a few nice features. VSE node resources are centrally updated, with resource updates and standard jobs issued centrally from the host. And jobs can be submitted for multiple nodes in one run, but single job skeletons create jobs based on software and hardware configurations of the individual node. MVS/CNAT maintains a pool of VSE job skeletons for each release of VSE/SP it supports, based on the jobs generated by the VSE/SP Interactive Interface. The releases currently supported are VSE/SP Version 4.1 and Version 3.2, but other VSE/SP releases can be supported by new skeletons developed by the user. MVS/CNAT maintains specific data for each VSE node connected to the host, with details of the software installed, and node-specific resource definitions such as CICS tables, VSAM, and Power definitions. Planned to be available in March 1990 in the US, it costs a one-time $17,700 on a Group 28 host to $62,000 on a Group 50 machine – 3090-500S or 600S. The graduated monthly licence charge option ranges from $590 to $1,150 at the same levels. Customers who pay a one-time charge for any IBM licensed program receive enhancements and future releases at no additional charge, but significant new function may be offered as an optional feature and charged for separately. In addition, IBM says, if a new version is announced and the customer chooses to license the new version for a one-time charge and replace the prior version, an upgrade charge may apply.