Automation Takes a Major Step Forward
Interface Design Group Chosen to Market MOTO, American Airlines' New Product

When the "living" icons representing three systems change to the preset warning for a crash, the coverage programmer watching MOTO knows instantly that all three systems are about to go down. A computer alarm goes off at the same time, and a global message zooms out so key personnel can start correcting the problem right away.

Other important console messages can be picked up just as quickly by MOTO, a new extension developed by American Airlines' SABRE Computer Services and now being made available for other TPF systems through Interface Design Group.

"With MOTO, you can suddenly see five processors go into IPL and know instantly that there's an overall problem," said SABRE programmer Randy Thomas, who is responsible for MOTO programming support. "With MOTO, you can see the big picture. Without it, you'd have to watch five individual consoles."

MOTO works exclusively with SuperVision, a fully automated console management system including LAN and REXX support, which IDG developed. Richard Ziettlow, the manager of Automation Services who set up the MOTO agreement between SABRE Computer Services and IDG, said that "like a lot of good ideas, MOTO has mushroomed and evolved into a tool that is now an integral part of our real-time operations environment."

And when SABRE Computer Services realized that other TPF shops would be interested in MOTO, IDG was a natural choice to handle the marketing because of its large, established market for SuperVision 3. "We've always had a good relationship with the people at IDG", Ziettlow said.

The key to MOTO's monitoring capability is the use of "living" icons that respond to certain character strings or messages put out by the systems being watched, said Jerry Bullard, the SABRE programmer/analyst who spearheaded MOTO's development.

Bullard said it took about a year to develop MOTO and that the project really kicked in when IDG introduced REXX Execs to SuperVision 3. Among REXX's many features is the ability of the user to highlight certain messages by color according to importance. "We needed some tool that would allow us to further automate," Bullard said. "SuperVision with REXX gave us that tool."

The result is the ability to monitor multiple systems at a single console, with the host user choosing which messages or character strings will be associated with which icons. MOTO eliminates the need to watch over an operator's shoulder or to scan system output looking for a particular message. Thomas noted that the host user can also set up special display rules for the message -- such as a global screen or an alarm sound. It can interface with up to 16 hosts. Because entries can't be made through MOTO, the extension can be used anywhere in the company without posing a security risk, Thomas said.

Jackie Scott, shift manager for real-time operations at SABRE Computer Services, said MOTO is flexible and easy to learn. "For some of our jobs, we just need to start them and let them run," she said. "MOTO keeps an eye on those for us and then lets us know when the jobs are completed." MOTO's browse capability makes it easy to look back over the console log, too. "We used to have to look page by page, but MOTO will search for you," Scott said.

Bullard said he views MOTO as a major step forward in automation. "It's difficult to automate a real-time system that has a continuous, task-changing environment," he said. "But this is a necessary step toward true TPF automated operations."