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Having been a systems programmer on IBM mainframes in
a former life, I'm going to take a stab at answering
the question posed by Walter Crockett:
> I've just started work at an excellent company that
> produces system optimization software for mainframe
> systems that run on OS390. In my tours of
> Amazon.com, I've noticed that there seem to be no
> good coffee table books on mainframe systems, just
> very specific, very expensive books for programmers
> -- while there are hundreds of general interest
> books on PCs.
> Anybody out there with mainframe experience who
> can suggest a good overview book?
Walter, I agree with you that there seem to be no
books with titles like "Mainframes for Dummies."
Maybe this is because anyone who needs to work with
mainframes is already focused on a specific area of
expertise in that environment.
But all computers have basically the same components -
one or more processor units, some main storage, some
random-access or disk storage apart from main storage,
and any number of input/output units. What sets
mainframes apart from PC's and workstations is that
they are so much larger, more complex, have so many
options, and are usually shared by hundreds if not
thousands of users.
As a result, the operating systems that run on these
mainframes are really controlling a very complicatd
environment and as a result have to do a whole lot
more than Windows or Netware. You mentioned that your
company's product works with OS/390, which is the
operating system used with IBM's largest mainframes.
If you want to plunge into this environment, you can
start with IBM's Web site, which has a ton of
documents available for downloading.
Go to www.s90.ibm.com/library for starters. One
option on that page is "Position Papers," which takes
you to a long list of documents that are at least
written for business people rather than being purely
technical references. If you scroll down that list
you will see a heading named HARDWARE. The third item
under HARDWARE is a document titled "Enterprise Server
Essentials: A non-technical guide for executives
whose business goals cannot be compromised by
This may not be exactly what you are looking for, but
it will give you a flavor of the kinds of things
mainframe users are concerned about.
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