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Important Academic Mainframe News

By Dr. Philip Baczewski, Associate Director of Academic Computing

Please note the following two Academic Mainframe System news items. The second item in particular may affect all who hold Academic Mainframe UserIDs.

SPSS for CMS will be removed as of 10/29/2000

You may recall from a message last year that SPSS Inc. decided not to make SPSS for CMS Y2K compliant and that as a result we were unable to renew our license for the 2000 Fiscal Year. We negotiated a no-charge extension to our SPSS/CMS license to 12/31/1999. This allowed people with SPSS/CMS system files to convert them to a portable format for use in other versions of SPSS. It has come to our attention that because SPSS/CMS is not Y2K compliant, it did not recognize the termination of our license period and apparently thinks it is 1900. However, we cannot continue to legally allow SPSS/CMS to run without a valid license. SPSS/CMS will be permanently removed from the system on 10/29/2000. This will not affect the MVS Batch version of SPSS which will continue to be available at the current time.

CMS may become unavailable as of 08/31/2001

IBM has discontinued the Higher Education Software Consortium program under which we have licensed VM/CMS and many associated software packages for over 10 years. IBM has yet to announce any replacement program for the HESC. Under the HESC, our licensing costs for exclusively academic IBM mainframe software averaged $40,000 - $50,000 per year. Without a replacement program for the HESC, those licensing costs could double, triple, or even quadruple to maintain the same VM/CMS environment. If the cost of VM/CMS becomes prohibitive or unjustifiable, it is likely that we will discontinue support for VM/CMS and instead recommend PC or UNIX platforms for research data analysis. It may be possible to maintain a small MVS environment for business computing instruction, however, all other academic mainframe activity will need to move to alternate processing platforms.

Another complicating factor in the ongoing support of an academic mainframe is that much of the software we run for MVS batch processing is available because it is also used for running the administrative mainframe system. A project is underway to find a replacement system for the current administrative applications and all discussion so far have indicated that any new system would not run on an IBM mainframe. This means that in a couple years, it could become cost prohibitive to offer any academic mainframe services.

Unfortunately, at this time it is not possible to make any definite determination as to the ongoing cost of maintaining the VM/CMS system. As information becomes available, additional news will be provided. Academic Computing remains committed to providing high-performance computing services in support of research. Please see http://www.unt.edu/rss/ for information about research computing platforms and services.