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A glossary of terms important to IBM mainframe machines
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FAA: Financial Application Architecture. An IBM marketecture for the finance/banking sector.
FABPMAIN: FABPMAIN is used for the IMS database to download the segment details.
Facilities Management: The notion of contracting out the entire management of your computer shop to a third party. IBM has been heavily involved in this market since its inception.
FAF: IBM SAA ImagePlus Folder Application Facility MVS/ESA. Software supporting image storage and retrieval under z/OS. Manages the indexing and workflow through an ImagePlus system. Replaced May 1999 by IBM Content Manager ImagePlus for OS/390.
FAST: Federation Against Software Theft. Independent UK body which finds and frequently prosecutes users of pirated software (mainly on PCs). Set up in 1984 by the British Computer Society’s Copyright Committee. Its first action was to have software better served by the British Copyright Act of 1956.
FastCall: Call management software for integrating telephone functions with LotusNotes and SmartSuite PC software. Developed by Aurora System, and announced as a Lotus product May 1996. Withdrawn October 1999.
Fastgate: Automated system for accelerating passenger throughput at airport immigration checkpoints. Based on a system tested at Bermuda International Airport in 1997. Fastgate is an ATM2-like device that compares either passengers’ fingerprints, hand geometry or voice prints, with those previously placed on file to verify identity. It then requests on-line confirmation from the border control authority database that no security alerts have been issued for the traveler. In general, the process takes less than 15 seconds to clear a traveler through an immigration checkpoint. Developed by IBM’s Hursley Laboratory in the UK.
Fast Packet: A packet switched technology, invented by Stratacom, and designed for fiber networks, which offers substantial performance benefits over X.25 and Frame Relay, by exploiting the greater transmission accuracy of fiber over copper. Fast Packet uses small fixed length (53byte) packets, and the ATM2 (asynchronous transfer mode) protocol. Capable of supporting transmission speeds up to 1.2 gigabit/sec.
Fastpath1: IMS feature for high performance on-line systems. Improves transaction rates by reducing the number of instructions that have to be executed for specific transactions – by up to 50%.
Fastpath2: Fastpath 9750 and 9770 were FEPs which enabled high-speed file transfers between IBM mainframes and minicomputers, and LAN-based workstations. Used CETI to connect to the 9370. They were Intel products sold by IBM. The 9770 replaced the 9750 in September 1988 and was withdrawn August 1992.
FastRef/2: Workstation OS/2 tool which was designed to interact with the now-defunct Repository Manager/MVS to enable users to evaluate the impact of proposed software changes without actually making them. Announced September 1991. Withdrawn March 1998.
Fast Response Cache Architecture: A set of AIX APIs enabling e-business applications to cache data such as Web content in the Network Buffer Cache (NBC). It can significantly reduce the path length, providing a performance boost.
FASTService: Failure Analysis and Support Technology Service. IBM Service which was intended to help users resolve problems in their z/OS application software. Used proprietary hardware and software on an IBM-run iSeries 400 which monitored probes installed by users in COBOL, PL/I, or Assembler applications. If the probe was activated (e.g., by a program error), the program telephoned up the iSeries 400 which used a database of problems to identify what was wrong, and suggest solutions. Withdrawn March 1996, with SystemView SiteManager Services suggested as a possible replacement.
Fast Service Upgrade: IBM software installation service that eases upgrade from one release of VSE/ESA to another. Includes system software products, like CICS/VSE.
FastSite: Lotus end user tool for easily creating Web pages for Internet, intranet or extranet sites, from existing files of several different formats, including Adobe PDF documents. Integrated with Microsoft FrontPage.
FAStT: IBM Fiber Array Storage Technology.
FAT: File Allocation Table. A table in PC-DOS and early Windows operating systems, used to allocate space on a disk for a file and to locate parts of the file that may be found on different sectors. Notorious for getting corrupted, especially in early versions of DOS. Replaced by FAT32, NTFS and HPFS. Also known as FAT16.
Fax: Facsimile. Transmission of a monochrome image of a page across the standard telephone system by dialing the telephone number of another Fax machine. International standards exist for several transmission speeds and display resolutions, although IBM promoted a standard of their own for a while. Rose from obscurity to universality during the 1980s, replacing the Telex and TWX. But Fax is not new. It had become quite popular in the 1930s within police departments for transmitting photographs (mug shots) of criminals.
FaxConcentrator: PS/2 board which allows you to send and receive faxes using group 3 standards. An API is provided for use in developing applications. Obsolete.
FBA: Fixed Block Architecture. A way of formatting disk drives in which the disk is allocated in fixed length (e.g., 512 bytes) blocks rather than cylinders.
FBSS: Financial Branch System Services. System for banks and the like. Based on a client/server architecture using PC-DOS, Windows, or OS/2 clients, and AS/400 servers communicating across a Token Ring network. Replaced by LANDP in June 1992.
FCB1: Forms Control Block. Originally a continuous carriage control tape, similar to paper tape, only wider, for the 1403 printer. Later, on high speed printers such as the 3800, a hardware buffer controlled by special characters embedded in the printer datastream. In either case, the FCB controls the vertical format/spacing of the printer to match the currently mounted paper forms. For example, to avoid printing over the header, footer and perforation.
FCB2: File Control Block.
FCC: Federal Communications Commission. American authority which regulates and oversees wire and radio transmissions, and stops PCs and the like emitting noxious radiation that could interfere with the reception of other noxious radiation such as TV soap operas.
F-Coupler: Frequency Coupler. A device that merges broadband analog signals with digital data using shielded twisted-pair wiring. This allows the cabling system to accommodate simultaneous analog video with data traffic on a Token Ring Network.
FCS1: First Customer Ship.
FCT: File Control Table. A CICS table where datasets are defined so they can be used by CICS applications and other software.
FD:OCA: Formatted Data Object Content Architecture. An architecture for describing field formatted data such as database elements. The idea is that the data description is attached to the data object and carried around with it over networks, so that receiver and sender share a common understanding of the data. FD:OCA should save an awful lot of converting and reconciling of data as it passes between systems – albeit at the expense of more data traffic across the network. FD:OCA is central to DRDA. Announced July 1990 and first implemented in September 1990.
FDDI: Fiber Distributed Data Interface. An ANSI standard for use of fiber optics to provide networks up to 100 Megabits/sec and up to 250 km long. Incorporates token passing and supports circuit-switched voice and packetized data. 3172 FDDI gateway announced September 1990, RS/6000 adapter in January 1992, and ten different FDDI adapters in June 1993. At one time FDDI was the hot favorite to become the standard MAN technology, but ATM2 has lengthened the odds. See also SDDI.
FDM: Frequency Division Multiplexing. A means of sending more than one set of messages down a single line by using a different carrier frequency for each message. FDM is the technique used on broadbandLANs.
FDP: Field Developed Program. Program developed unofficially – usually by a customer – and available somewhat grudgingly from IBM. You almost never heard about them anymore.
FEDI: Financial Electronic Data Interchange. Process for the transmission of both payment instructions and remittance details from computer to computer using international message standards.
Fellow: You get to be an IBM Fellow for sustained technical achievement. The prize is 5 years off work at your full salary to pursue any research or technical projects you like so long as it’s related to IBM’s business.
FEP: Front-End Processor. Generic (non IBM-specific) term for a specialized computer linked to the front end of a DP machine to support a specialized function (e.g., communications). IBM’s 3705, 3720, 3725, and 3745 are communications FEPs.
FEPI: Front End Programming Interface. A CICS feature (announced late 1991) which helps users to integrate unrelated IMS and CICS applications under the CICS umbrella. Works by enabling CICS applications to look like terminals to other CICS and IMS1 applications. Potentially it enables a wider range of systems to work with CICS. Not terribly strategic – rather it’s a way of prolonging the life of legacy systems.
FFST: First Failure Support Technology. Technology first introduced in the 3990-6 in May 1993, and described by IBM as a strategic IBM technology for automated software problem detection and support. When an error first occurs, FFST captures all the appropriate diagnostic information to minimize the chances of the error occurring again. Later implemented in z/OS and z/VM.
FFTDCA: Final-Form Text DCA. Version of the DCA architecture for final form documents (i.e., with all the formatting and control characters in place). Generally it’s easier to ship final-form documents around than to ship revisable-form documents where the format and control characters are not in a fixed form.
Fiber optic channel: Channel technology which replaces the copper bus and tag channel cables with fiber optic links. Fiber optics have lots of advantages – greater bandwidth, less signal attenuation, lower weight (1/900th that of bus and tag), greater security. First used, September 1990, in IBM’s System/390ESCON architecture which introduced the new serial protocol needed to achieve bandwidths beyond the 4.5MB/sec practical limit of copper bus and tag. Fiber-optic channels were announced for the AS/400 in May 1991. FICON was introduced, effectively replacing EICON, in May 1998. IBM, along with other vendors, has developing standards for fiber channels for connecting workstations.
FICON: FIbre CONnections. An eserverzSeries 900 channel that implements the ANSIFCS2 transport. Each FICON channel can handle over 4,000 I/O operations per second, equivalent to eight ESCON channels. The FICON channel link speed is 100MBps full duplex, compared with 17MBps simplex with ESCON links. Announced May 1998.
Field Business Unit: IBM sales and marketing location with profit objectives.
FIFO: First In, First Out. A queuing method also known as FCFS: first come, first served. Always process the item that has been in the queue the longest. LIFO, last in, first out, is the opposite, where the most recent addition to the queue is processed first; also known as a push-down stack.
File-Aid: File-AID/Express migrates and transforms data, converts data for new DBMS environments, creates temporary or permanent interfaces between new and existing applications, and interactively converts subsets of data for testing applications or interfaces.
File striping: IBM technique for very high-speed DASD. Uses the Parallel Input-Output Access Method (PIOAM) – a set of routines which enable very high-speed access to data by scattering consecutive fields across multiple devices and data paths, thereby allowing some degree of I/O parallelism. It’s a special case of disk striping. PIOAM was announced July 1989 and withdrawn April 1995. It was used from Clustered FORTRAN under z/OS. And also supported by ftp in z/OS TCP/IP. See also Sequential data striping.
FIPS: Federal Information Processing Standard. Under the US Information Technology Management Reform Act, the Secretary of Commerce approves standards and guidelines that are developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for federal computer systems. These standards and guidelines are issued by NIST as Federal Information Processing Standards for use government-wide. For example, FIPS 140 sets several security levels for cryptographic hardware. IBM has several products that meet these standards.
Firewall1: Generic term for security software, often with a stand-alone computer system, that controls all of an organization’s incoming traffic from the Internet at one location, most notably unauthorized access attempts, though many larger firewalls also filter for viruses. So-called hardware firewalls usually use a security-hardened version of an operating system to overcome the risk of software-only firewalls: direct attacks on weaknesses in the operating system. See also SecureWay Firewall.
Fireworks Partners: IBM venture capital arm set up in January 1993 to foster multimedia developments for the commercial and consumer markets. Disappeared without a trace.
Firmware: Software permanently stored within a hardware device as an alternative to hardware circuitry to make it function. Most devices that have firmware can have it updated. It may, for example, be stored in EPROM. IBM originally invented diskettes as a medium for loading firmware on each IML, since early computers did not permanently store firmware at all. Examples of firmware include the BIOS on a motherboard and complex mainframe machine instructions like Move Page. Firmware is safer than software loaded from an alterable medium and more adaptable to change than pure hardware circuitry.
First Touch: A programming technique that only builds elements of a large complex structure as they are needed. IBM uses it for AIX Fast Server Startup where each attribute table is not created until an entry is added that uses that attribute.
Fix: A botch to repair (fix) a problem.
FLASH algorithm: Fast Look-up Algorithm for Structural Homology. FLASH is a probabilistic indexed algorithm that is used to carry out extremely fast similarity matching of objects in a database. The algorithm looks for matches only in those places where it’s likely to find them and ignores the rest of the database. Because its performance degrades very slowly as the size of the database increases, it allows very high scalability. Applications of FLASH include matching new DNA and protein sequences, matching molecular structures, and identifying fingerprints for civil applications. FLASH started as a computer vision program developed at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center.
FlashCopy: A point-in-time copy feature of Enterprise Storage Server (ESS). Can be used to create a valid copy of an open database while it is being updated, without risk of having different parts of the database accurate to different moments in time. For example, related rows of different tables.
Flat file: Any file (dataset1, mainframe parlance) stored in a file access method without an index, which, of course, eliminates all DBMS. cf. flat file system, which refers to the directory that files are stored in, rather than the file itself. There are also non-relational DBMS known as flat file databases.
Flat file system: A directory system for files that does not have a hierarchy, which means there are no subdirectories, and each file name is unique.
Flexlease: A leasing deal invented and sold by Atlantic Computers in the UK, and widely considered to be the cause of Atlantic’s spectacular £ 1500m collapse in early 1990. The customer signed a lease (usually a seven-year lease rather than the more normal five years) with a finance house. A separate agreement between the leasing company and the customer contained walk and flex clauses. In the walk clause the leasing company agreed to take over the lease a year or two before the full term of the lease, allowing the customer to walk away from the lease with no further obligation; payments still needed to be made to the finance house, and the leasing company usually sold the equipment to help service the outstanding lease. The flex clause gave the customer the option of changing the equipment – in effect the leasing company arranged a new lease incorporating payments for the old lease and the new equipment. It was all hunky-dory for as long as the leasing company could keep on growing the business; when the growth stopped, so did Atlantic.
Floating point: One of several methods of storing numbers on an IBM mainframe and most other computers. Similar to scientific notation, such as 3.75 times 10 to the 25th power, only it is 2 or 16 that is taken to some power. For example, short floating point on the mainframe is a sign bit followed by a 7 bit exponent then 3 bytes of mantissa. To make matters even more confusing, the exponent is stored in Excess-64 notation. All of which means you have to subtract 64 from the exponent to get the power to which 16 must be taken, times the value of the mantissa as if it had a decimal point in front of it. Not something you want to figure out from a hexadecimal dump. Especially without a hex calculator.
FlowMark: Object-oriented workflow management platform developed by IBM’s Vienna labs, and announced September 1993. It’s a generalized set of services which allow users to define and manage standard business activities. Included interfaces to DataHub, and was promoted by IBM for designing, implementing, and controlling distributed CICS applications. Internet add-ons announced February 1996, and links with MQSeries and Lotus Notes in March 1996. Platform support varied over the years, but at one time or another included z/OS, Windows (including iSeries 400 IPCS2), AIX, OS/2 and HP-UX. Replaced by MQSeries Workflow December 1999.
FLPA: Fixed Link Pack Area. Area within z/OS holding programs typically used by many different address spaces simultaneously.
FLSF: Font Library Service Facility. Font management utility for use with 3800 and 4250 printers. Obsolete.
FMCB: Function Management Control Block.
Focal Point: A network node within an ONM network that collects information and makes it available to network personnel, and to Entry Points and Service Points. From a network management point of view, the Focal Point is the hub of the network.
Foothill: Term used to describe the members of the ES/9000 range that were derived directly from the 3090J – i.e., all the water-cooled models at the launch except the 820 and 900. They’re basically the 3090J internals with new environmentals. They were superseded in February 1993 with the new 9021s.
Footprint1: Generic term for the measure of floor space required for one or more pieces of hardware.
Footprint2: Canadian company bought by IBM in mid 1995 for its object-oriented bank automation software.
Fork lift upgrade: IBMspeak for a complete machine swap – i.e., you get a fork-lift truck to take away your old machine, and put a new one in its place.
Form factor: A technical term meaning physical size, and widely used by disk specialists to mean diameter – why they can’t just say diameter is one of life’s little mysteries.
FormTalk: OS/2 software for creating, routing, approving, and tracking business forms. Works with Microsoft Mail, Lotus Notes, cc:Mail, and FlowMark. There’s a Windows version too. Withdrawn February 1996.
Fort Knox: Internal IBM code name for a project to produce a computer which combines the mainframe and iSeries 400 architecture in the same box. IBM has firmly denied that such a box will ever appear. It is probable that the project was killed, or at least shelved, in 1984. See also MVS/400.
FORTRAN: FORmula TRANslation. A programming language best suited for engineering, scientific and mathematical applications. Historically, it was the first programming language taught in many universities and colleges. SAA-anointed in the FORTRAN 1977 ANSI version, but FORTRAN has been withdrawn from most SAA platforms. Currently, there are three available versions of FORTRAN: VS FORTRAN for z/OS and z/VM, XL Fortran for AIX and XL High Performance Fortran for AIX. See also Clustered FORTRAN.
FPoSS: Flexible Point of Sales Services. IBM initiative which provided a flexible need analysis and insurance product framework. It was a set of tools that provides dynamic models of customer behavior and dynamic combinations of product offerings. Obsolete.
FPR: Floating Point Register. The bit of the CPU which does all the difficult sums. The standard IBM mainframe has four FPRs each of 64 bits and stores floating point numbers to the base 16. FPRs can be paired to process extended floating point numbers.
Fragmentation: When an operating system writes data to disk, or other storage medium, and there is insufficient contiguous space, the data is then written to discontiguous sectors. The result is fragmented data. Fragmentation can cause increased data access times because the operating system must search different tracks for information. See Defragmentation.
Frame Relay: High-performance packet-switching network standard, intended to replace X.25 (over which it claims a six-fold performance improvement because of reductions in network functions) on ISDN networks. Frame Relay is a particularly strong candidate for networks which mix different types of traffic (e.g., voice and data). IBM strongly embraced the technology. A particular attraction of the technique is that it’s a handy stepping stone on the way to ATM2. See also Fast Packet, RouteXpander/2.
Framework: IBMspeak for an abstract edifice that’s not quite as well worked out and complex as an architecture, but that’s a bit more than just a glint in a marketer’s eye. Usually a framework will involve a few specifications and lots of strategic alliances between IBM and third-party vendors who hope to pick up a few crumbs which fall off the table. The Information Warehouse and SystemView are of this ilk. These days, frameworks are spoken of in the same breath as WebSphere.
FS: Future System. IBM project started early 1970s to design a follow-on to the mainframe architecture. The design turned out to be too revolutionary and was axed in 1975. Spin-offs from FS include the System/38, TCM1s, extended architecture, dynamic channels, single level storage. The name FS is often revived by pundits to refer to whatever they think the next mainframe machine architecture will be.
FSF/6000: File Storage Facility/6000. Software which provides a file server function on a networked pSeries. Keeps important and frequently used files on the client, and tucks less frequently used files away on the server. Announced May 1994, withdrawn February 1997.
FSIOP: File Server I/O Processor. Feature (add-in card) introduced on the AS/400 Advanced Server (see Advanced Series) which provides high-performance file serving for PC workstations using the AS/400 as a file server. Announced May 1994. Replaced by the Integrated Netfinity Server February 1999. See also Integrated PC Server (IPCS).
FTAM: File Transfer, Access and Management/Manipulation. OSI-compatible protocol for distributed data management. A layer 7 Application Service Element intended to be used for creating, accessing, and moving large structured files between heterogeneous systems. The FTAM standard considers all data to have a generalized virtual filestore structure, consisting of named collections of hierarchically organized data. Included in SAA and supported in OSI/FS.
FTP1: File Transfer Program. General purpose file transfer/update program (IND$FILE) for transferring files in 3270 format in an SNA environment. Widely used to transfer files between PCs and mainframe. Withdrawn January 1992. See also NetView File Transfer Program, FTTERM.
FTS1: File Transfer Support. Facility first introduced on the System/36, and now part of OS/400, enabling files to be sent to and retrieved from remote systems. Much simpler than DDM, which provides a more generalized mechanism for data transfer.
FTS2: Fiber Transport Services. An area within IBM Global Services that provides and installs fiber optic cables.
FTTERM: PC/Host File Transfer and Terminal Emulator Program. PC-DOS 3270/5250 emulator that also provides 3101 and DEC VT100 terminal emulation. Supports various file transfer protocols, including IND$FILE for mainframe file transfers. Not withdrawn from marketing until March 1998, even though support ended in December 1991.
FTX: Version of Unix which ran on the System/88. Obsolete.
FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Phrase (generally reckoned to have been coined by Gene Amdahl) to describe what IBM has often been accused of trying to introduce into its customers’ minds when it believed that the customer was about to tread a non-IBM path. Alleged FUD tactics include pre-announcement, OCO policies, black-box products, and refusal to support PCM or modified IBM products.
Function Point Analysis: Productivity measure of application development developed by A.J. Albrecht at IBM in 1977. Became quite popular industry-wide within the next 15 years, but little is heard of it today, though there are still a few fans left. Function point analysis measures the size and complexity of software in terms of the number of user functions delivered. It’s independent of the traditional – and very misleading – use of number of lines of code as a productivity measure. As you might guess, it was heavily supported by IBM at one time with education and training, and even a software product called the Function Point Calculator.
Function shipping: CICS function that allows one CICS application to access data via another CICS region, perhaps on another processor. Function shipping was originally used to get round addressing limitations within CICS and MVS, then later to support distributed TP between mainframes and PCs running OS/2 CICS.