One Hundred Percent Availability
One of the key objectives IBM and the TPF user community has set for itself it a target of one hundred percent availability. There is really no argument from any quarter that the goal is high on the list of desired objectives, and while it may require a substantial "gesture" on the part of software developers (both vendors and users), there is little doubt that one hundred percent availability will be achieved in the not too distant future.
The TPF Users Group has repeatedly affirmed the issue by making one hundred percent availability the central theme of several of its recent conferences, and an examination of the TUG Requirements List reflects several items specific to the matter. Those of us who attended the last TUG conference in New Orleans are also very much aware of the additional measures incorporated within the TPF4. 1 product providing greater system stability and protection... and availability! Additionally, a number of vendors offer software solutions for everything from test and development tools, to dump analyzers, to console automation products, all designed to get us even closer to the ultimate prize: one hundred percent availability.
From a hardware perspective, we're once again on the right track. Whether we talk about mainframes, DASD, tape drives/SILO's, or control units, the conclusions are the same. The hardware issues have been (are being) addressed and the concerns over hardware reliability are certainly diminishing.
It's easy to paint the rosy picture and marvel at the accomplishments we've made until fate slaps us in the face with the unexpected. In my case it was a telephone call on a Saturday afternoon with the news that Ron Campbell had died. Ron had over 20 years in ACP/TPF holding positions that ranged from Operator to Vice President of Computer Operations. His gift however was in training. Drawing on his experience, Ron developed a series of Operations, Telecommunications, and Management Overview training courses which he presented over the years to people at United, Eastern, and American Airlines, Holiday Inns, Amtrak, Marriott, Citibank, and French National Railroad (SNCF). When time permitted, Ron also served as Co-Chairman of the ACP Users Group Education Committee, and as Project Manager of IBM GUIDE's Training and Education Group. In 1985, he formed his own consulting company, and fulfilled contracts with the IRS, Sysorex Corp., Citibank, IPCS, Amdahl Corporation, American Express, and AMRIS.
I first met Ron in 1981 at Amtrak in Philadelphia. What began as a job opportunity for me quickly turned into an incredible friendship. Over the years we ended up working together on various projects at different TPF shops. I was even one of several "best men" at his wedding. When I first thought about starting ACP·TPF Today, it was Ron who encouraged me to actually publish the first issue. His wife Donna even contributed the first article for the publication. If it weren't for Ron, there probably wouldn't be an ACP·TPF Today. I can't believe he's not here anymore.
The day will come where the logic of the software is flawless, and the hardware is completely fault tolerant. It's not that far away, and most of us will still be around to see it. But I would trade it all in a second, for one hundred percent availability of people. It's the people who make the difference, not the machines or the systems. We should never make the mistake of confusing the two.
If there is any solace in Ron's death, it's the vast number of people he touched during his life. I can't tell you the actual number of people who either knew Ron, or worked for Ron, or were trained by Ron in those twenty-plus years, but that number is certainly in the thousands. If some of you reading this knew Ron for one reason or another, please take just a minute to reflect, and maybe say good-by in your own way. As for myself, I don't think of Ron as being gone. He's just unavailable.