Monday, June 09, 2008

Free Internet services? At one time I had to deal with mainframe computer costs!


Along the lines of comments I have made on a couple of other blogs recently about free blogging services and low-cost shared web hosting, I thought I would reiterate the “free service” experience early in my mainframe IT career.

I remember back in the mid 1970s when working at NBC in New York on the Univac 1110 system with paper-type terminals, the system would slow. Administrators would say that online updating should not be a “free resource” and banned compiling programs in demand mode. They talked about restricting the number of terminals. At Bradford National, later, we worked in “tube cities” and did not have terminals at our desks. In fact, I did not have a personal terminal again at my desk until late 1984 at Chilton in Dallas.

At Lewin-ICF, shortly after I arrived in 1988, the data center (HealthNet of Virginia Blue Cross and Blue Shield) started charging back for computer time and disk space. We had a sub-business that had to be profitable even given this arrangement. I rewrote one job to replace random VSAM file reading with sorting and sequential processing (in COBOL) to reduce computer costs. At one point I even engaged in some contingent negotiations with other data centers to try to reduce computer costs.

Of course, in the 1990s with PCs and the Internet, times would change so much. Shared hosting ISPs have become generous with bandwidth and disk space to the point that generally it’s not an issue for most reasonable websites unless they have a lot of video or a lot of large images (or perhaps a lot of raw PDF non-searchable image documents). Text storage is cheap has been so for years.

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