A Day In The Life
by Alan Sadowsky
Picture if you will, the Cleaver family of Anytown, USA. There's Ward, June, Wally, and (all together now) the Beaver. As each of the Cleaver clan returns home after a long day, let's highlight just a few of the things that took Place during the past eight hours.
0900 - Ward makes airline reservations with USAir for a business trip to the coast.
0915 - Ward calls Holiday Inns for a room reservation.
0935 - Ward calls Avis to reserve a car at the airport.
1040 - June refills her Valium prescription at the local Walgreen's drugstore.
1105 - Wally withdraws $50.00 from his account at a Bank of America ATM.
1230 - June charges lunch for herself and "the girls" on her American Express card.
1300 - Beaver has his broker check on his portfolio at the Chicago Board Of Exchange.
1410 - June decides to redecorate the house, and calls Beneficial Finance to inquire about a loan.
1450 - Wally hops on AMTRAK to meet a friend in the city.
1525 - The postman delivers a refund check from the IRS.
1615 - Beaver gets approval on financing from GMAC, and buys a new Eldorado.
1630 - Wally arrives in the city, is immediately mugged, and calls 911 for the police.
1645 - Ward stops at the travel agency, and pays for his airline tickets with his VISA card.
1700 - June dials into Prodigy on the PC, and finds a recipe for dinner.
Humor aside, the facts are undeniable. ACP/TPF touches the lives of literally millions of people every day. Whether it's travel arrangements, financial transactions, retail sales, or videotex on the PC, the technology is a part of our lifestyles, and continues to play an ever growing role in many of our day-to-day activities.
Now if I were to throw out a number, just off the top of my head, I would say 98 percent of our readers are ACP/TPF'ers. For those of you new to the technology, and to the valued 2 percent of our readers that would like to know a bit more about ACP/TPF, suffice to say; You've come to the right place.
In the beginning ...
ACP (Airlines Control Program) was originally designed and developed in the late 1950's and early 1960's as a joint project between IBM and several major U.S. airlines. As air travel grew in popularity and convenience, the need arose to automate the reservations and operations aspects of the airline business. As ACP matured and developed over the years, it became apparent that as an operating system it was ideally suited for use in many other business areas requiring a rapid response time to extremely high transaction volumes. IBM renamed the system TPF (Transaction Processing Facility), and that should answer at least two questions you may have had.
In a nutshell ...
From a practical application standpoint, TPF can be used as a transaction processing system, a network switch, Or a front end processor. The key application characteristics of TPF provide an ideal environment for high-volume transaction processing. First, TPF has a very high maximum capacity that allows for both planned and unpredictable growth of the system. Second, TPF provides extremely high system availability, often exceeding: 99.98%. When TPF detects a condition that could cause a system failure, TPF's design philosophy regarding availability is to fail quickly, and automatically restart. When this happens, TPF takes itself down, generates a memory "dump", and re-IPLs Itself, usually without any operator intervention. In almost every case, the system is backed up, serving the network within 20 seconds. Third, is TPF's proficient use of resources which provides the customer with a surprisingly low cost per transaction in a high transaction volume environment. The larger TPF customers today are experiencing transaction rates of over 2000/second. Running with up to eight processors coupled together, processing requests that often require more than twenty accesses to the data base, and updating large data bases that exceed 1000 disk actuators, TPF still provides a rapid three second or less response to the user.
TPF has come a long way since the early '70s. What started out as a highly specialized system has emerged into both a control program and an application development environment that is IBM's strategic offering in today's high-volume transaction processing arena.