By Dr. Philip
Baczewski, Associate Director of Academic Computing
Academic Mainframe Services to End After **2003
It was announced in the May 2002
issue of Benchmarks Online that Academic Mainframe
services would end as of the beginning of the Summer I session of
2003. Any academic mainframe account holders who have not already
moved their files from VM/CMS and MVS should review that article and
begin making plans now.
It's important to note that this change primarily affects faculty
and some graduate students who use VM/CMS to log on and run statistically
analysis programs such as SAS and SPSS. The academic mainframe
is a separate
service from the administrative mainframe which runs SIMS, HRMIS, and
supports the business functions of the university.
The Academic Mainframe is actually a logically separate partition
of the University's IBM 9670 mainframe which is used to run
registration and other administrative applications at UNT. While the administrative and
academic mainframe operations share one large computer, they function like two
separate computers and have no overlapping operations.
Historically, the mainframe was the only computer that people could
teach programming or analyze data for research. When I joined
Computing Services in 1987, my job was to assist faculty who used the
academic mainframe for their instruction or research.
Microcomputers were available at that time, but they were limited in the functions they
perform (including a limitation of 640 Kilobytes of addressable random
access memory). Any large-scale computing still required access
Over the years, more and more academic computing activity has moved to
personal computers. Some activity, however, still remains on the
mainframe partition, principally, business computing instruction and
some social science research data analysis. Business computing
instruction classes use the mainframe to teach COBOL programming and
mainframe database technology because some businesses still use
mainframe technology. Some social sciences researchers still use
the mainframe because they have accumulated years of data and programs
and it has been easier to keep using the mainframe than to move to
using a personal computer.
For years, mainframe computers offered the fastest processing
and the most storage space available on any computing platform. Mainframe computers were economically advantageous because the
processing power could be shared among a large number of users.
Microcomputer technology, however, has greatly outpaced what is
available on our mainframe. Most people don't realize that a
typical new desktop PC has a much faster processor, a much larger
amount of RAM, and much more disk storage capacity than is available
via a mainframe account. A CD-ROM holds one-half more data than
one of our mainframe tape cartridges.
It is now necessary to retire mainframe technology in favor of more
contemporary computing platforms. There are several reasons for
- The University is moving away from mainframe technology for
administrative computing needs and the mainframe will not be
significantly upgraded and will eventually be totally shut down
once administrative applications are moved to new processing
- Academic Computing Services can provide a higher quality of
support for microcomputer applications and those applications
incorporate and use the latest computing technology;
- The number of academic mainframe users has dwindled to the point
that it is no longer economically advantageous to use mainframe
technology for academic computing needs.
This change is inevitable and it is hoped that a definitive
deadline for termination of academic mainframe services will promote
an proactive approach to transferring any data and programs which need
to be utilized on other platforms. If you have questions about
how to start this process, feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ACS staff will be available to assist in the process of moving files
from mainframe accounts, but since staff time is limited, it is best
to get those requests in as soon as possible.