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MAINFRAME TO CLIENT/SERVER --- A PROGRESS REPORT by Bruce D. Fritchman

LEHIGH UNIVERSITY May 24, 1994 MAINFRAME TO CLIENT/SERVER --- A PROGRESS REPORT by Bruce D. Fritchman In 1990 Computing and Communications Services made the

decision to move Lehigh from a mainframe to a client/server computing environment. There were many reasons for making this decision including: a significantly lower priceperformance-ratio, the ability to incrementally add computing resources at a reasonable cost, the ability to more easily satisfy a broad range of user computing needs, and recognition that technological developments were favoring distributed computing. The first step in the transformation process was the development of a comprehensive and detailed Five Year Plan. While it is often said that the greatest value of developing a long range plan is the process of clearly formulating ideas rather than the actual implementation of the plan, as it turned out both the process and the plan were essential to the success of the transition. In fact, four years later the plan is being followed with few exceptions. There are a number of basic issues that must be dealt with to successfully make the transition. First, it is necessary to fully develop a high-speed data network to support the distributed computing environment. Second, enough distributed computing resources must be placed directly in the hands of end users to meet their computing needs. Third, the same or similar software available on the mainframes must be available in the client/server environment along with new software particularly well suited to distributed computing. Fourth, suitable training must be available to make it possible for users to take full advantage of distributed computing. Finally, a management structure must be set up to support the new infrastructure. Lehigh's Five Year Plan addressed all of these issues, ultimately reducing them to 28 specific programs for implementation. In the final analysis the success of any plan is measured by its accomplishments. The following provides specific information about the progress Lehigh has made in implementing its plan from the Spring of 1990 to the Spring of 1994. Each area identified above is addressed. High-Speed Data Network In 1985 Lehigh installed an InteCom IBX switch. This switch is a totally digital, non-blocking PBX providing voice and low-speed data services (19.2Kbps). Everyone on campus was provided voice and data connectivity including: every student living unit, every faculty and staff desk, every lab, and every classroom. Along with this connectivity, every member of the faculty was given a personal computer and 200 PCs were installed in public sites for student access. In addition, Lehigh University's Computing Center (LUCC) provided extensive seminars to interested students, staff, and faculty in the use of the network and PCs. Approximately 2000 attend these seminars annually. The net effect of these activities was to change the computing culture, generating an appetite for distributed computing resources. This was a precursor for the move to a true client/server environment. Following the completion of the Five Year Plan, implementation of a high-speed, data network was begun in

concert with the acquisition of more powerful client/server computing resources. Figure 1 shows the extent of the network backbone three and one half years later. It should be noted that the backbone is all interconnected with fiber optic cable supporting FDDI 100 Mbps data rates. The first implementation of the backbone used Ethernet rather than FDDI, primarily because of the high cost of FDDI in 1990. Now the original Ethernet is used as a backup. All but two routers are connected to both backbones. It should be further noted that FDDI is implemented as a star rather than a ring and that the concentrator at the center is backed up by an on-line hot spare. There are two reasons for the star configuration. Initially, the most important was the flexibility that a star configuration gives in adding new facilities. Since Lehigh's backbone spans a distance of 7 km, this was a very important consideration. More recently, it has become apparent that the star configuration will make it easy to make a transition to ATM switching, the technology which will dominate future high-speed networking. As shown in Figure 1, each router is connected to one or more blocks which represent buildings. Thirty-two buildings are now connected. Within each building are one or more subnets. Lehigh's complete network consists of the backbone, represented in Figure 1, along with the subnets running throughout the buildings. With one exception, all subnets are 10 Base-T Ethernets over unshielded twisted pairs. Each building subnet is a local area network (LAN) supported by a server. The growth in the implementation of LANs is shown in Figure 2. Here the growth in departmental LANs is shown as is the growth in the total number of LANs. The difference between the two graphs is the number of LANs supporting public computing sites. The growth in the number of LAN connections is shown in Figure 3. Progress continues in adding connections. It is expected that the number of connections will double over the next two years as student living units are added. Since the implementation of the FDDI backbone, ATM technology appears to have matured sufficiently to permit implementation of a modest size ATM network. Initially, the ATM network will be used to connect multimedia production sites to classrooms and to video and graphics servers. Connections between the existing packet switched network will also be provided. Over time the FDDI connections will migrate to the ATM network as the ATM technology becomes cost-effective, ultimately leaving only the ATM network. Another important connection shown in Figure 1 is the connection to Prepnet. Prepnet is a mid-level network which provides Lehigh's connectivity to the Internet. The Lehigh community depends very heavily on the information resources available on the Internet. To make it easy for users without knowledge of UNIX to use the Internet productively, Gopher Servers and a World Wide Web Server using Mosaic home pages are available to all users. FIGURES NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION

Changes In The Computing Infrastructure At the heart of the Five Year Plan was the requirement to replace mainframes with networked workstations. This was understood to be the most difficult change to achieve. There are three main issues that must be dealt with to make this transformation. The first issue is computer hardware. At any particular point in time it is generally possible to identify the hardware products having the lowest priceperformance-ratio. Unfortunately, over relatively short periods of time, vendors tend to leap-frog each other and so it is unlikely that one vendor can maintain a leadership position for any lengthy period. There are other considerations which are at least as important as the priceperformance-ratio. Some vendors keep prices artificially low and recover revenues through maintenance. Other vendors reverse this strategy. Only by looking at the costperformance-ratio over the expected lifetime of the hardware can reasonable decisions be made. The availability of software applications and the stability of the operating environment are also extremely important considerations in selecting a hardware product at any given time. No matter how careful an organization is in selecting a vendor, it is unlikely that a single vendor will maintain a preferred position over a long period and over a broad range of applications. Accepting that fact leads to only one conclusion, the best client/server environment is one based on open standards capable of simultaneously supporting the widest range of hardware products. This is precisely the approach Lehigh took in developing its client/server environment. At the present time Lehigh predominately uses IBM RISC/6000 workstations, because it was possible to work out a good partnership arrangement with IBM. However, there are also significant clusters of SUN, HP and Silicon Graphics workstations, all of which are integrated into the environment. Finding equivalent mainframe software that would satisfy users in the client/server environment without requiring significant user retraining appeared to present our greatest obstacle to shutting down mainframes. From the very beginning it was judged that the administrative computing environment would be the most difficult to convert. To a large degree this was a correct assessment. However, there were some notable exceptions, and today software is no longer a significant obstacle. In hindsight, the software issue has not turned out to be as difficult a problem as originally envisioned. In fact, shutting down mainframes turned out to be far easier than expected. Table 1 lists the key events in converting to a client/server environment. As soon as the plan was completed, negotiations were begun with IBM, Oracle and SCT to implement the first major client/server application. Ironically, it was an administrative computing application supporting the Admissions Office. It is a SCT Banner software product that was adapted to meet Lehigh's requirements. This application is built on the Oracle

Database and runs on a RISC/6000 workstation under AIX. Since this was the first of a number of major applications which required a relational database and since the Five Year Plan called for standardizing on a relational database, negotiations were begun immediately with Oracle for a longterm licensing agreement. An agreement was finalized in August of 1990 permitting the Admission's Office system to become operational by January of 1991. In contrast to shutting down even the first mainframe, the Admission's Office client/server application was easy to implement because it was a new application. An important part of Lehigh's conversion strategy was to take the funds previously needed to support, maintain, and amortize mainframe hardware and software and to use them to both support client/server hardware and software and to purchase new workstations. The underlying assumption was that the mainframe funds would be sufficient to do both. To realize this assumption, some of the available funds were used to purchase replacement clients and servers. Actually, these dollars were leveraged by using them to amortize a $2 million loan over four years. Having determined the dollars available, workstation vendors were solicited with the intent of taking maximum advantage of purchasing power by purchasing through a single vendor. After evaluating more than half a dozen vendors, IBM was selected. The selection was based on product performance and price. Evaluation of vendor products and the negotiation of a satisfactory agreement took about nine months to conclude. The agreement not only included the purchase price of the workstations, but also contained provisions to provide software and hardware maintenance at Lehigh. Having concluded an agreement with IBM in October 1991, the first workstations were placed in public facilities by December of 1991. This was followed immediately by installation of an Andrew File Server (AFS) in January 1992 to support the distributed workstation environment. Back on the administrative computing side, a second client/server application to support the Development Office became operational in March of 1992. This followed almost a year of adaptation and testing during 1991. It also is a SCT product built on Oracle running under AIX on an IBM RISC/6000 system. After acquiring appropriate hardware and software, the first mainframe was shut down in May of 1992. This machine had been providing an array of information services to the entire university community. In order to shut down this machine the services running on it were converted to AIX so they would have the same look and feel the users were accustomed to on the mainframe. Conversion was actually taking place during most of 1991. As soon as the first workstations became available in December of 1991, beta testing of the converted software was begun with a selected group of users. This made it possible to move to a production environment in May 1992 and to shut down the mainframe at that time. Initially an IBM 4381 mainframe was replaced with an IBM RISC/6000 Model 950. This was the largest server available from IBM at the time, and it provided more capability than did the 4381.

Next the first general purpose mainframe was shut down. It was replaced by two compute servers, an IBM RISC/6000-950 and a 560. These machines supported the same general purpose applications as did the mainframe. This changeover went without a hitch. One reason two machines where set up specifically as compute servers had to do with software issues. In particular, it was not possible to justify the cost of licenses for some applications to run on all of the distributed workstations. This included the IMSL library and some applications that were required by a small subset of users. By licensing these applications on one or two machines the cost became quite manageable and the users who needed them could still access them on machines that had more computing power than the mainframes they replaced. By this time the growth in demand for information services was beginning to overload the 950 being used to support them. There was also an increase in demand for compute services, and so a newly available IBM RISC/6000 Model 580 was acquired to help support the compute services and the 560 previously used for that purpose was moved to help support the information services. This took place in August of 1992. However, when the students returned in the Fall, demand for information services took another quantum leap, and it was necessary to add a third machine to the suite. This time a Model 980 was added. It was IBM's newest and most powerful workstation at the time. This was done in October of 1992. The next step was to shut down the last general purpose mainframe, a DEC 8530. This was done in January 1993. All the while mainframes were being replaced and servers upgraded, new workstations were being placed in public sites located close to the end users in departments all across the campus. This process was completed in June 1993. By this time 130 IBM RISC/6000s had been added along with 10 servers and 15 staff machines. Of course, all were connected through the high-speed backbone network. Following the addition of workstations in public sites, it was determined that many of them, which had been purchased with 16MB of RAM, needed to be upgraded, and so during the Summer of 1993, all public-site workstations were upgraded to at least 32MB of RAM. Finally, the continued growth in the demand for information services again pushed the three servers providing these services to their limit. Again in March of 1994 the RISC/6000 Model 930 was upgraded to the newly available 990. This added enough capacity to provide satisfactory service through the Spring semester. Undoubtedly, additional capacity will again have to be added in the Fall of 1994 to adequately support the continuing growth in the demand for information services. In one sense this dramatic growth is a measure of the success of the transition. In another, it is a problem to keep pace with demand. FIGURES NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION

During the period from January of 1992 to June of 1993, it is estimated the raw computing power available to the end user was increased almost three orders of magnitude. This does not include the upgrade of a couple of hundred PCs from 8088 machines to 386 and 486 machines. Having increased the computing power by so much, it is of interest to determine what the users did with that power, especially when it is observed that all charges for the use of computing were eliminated during this period. One measure of the change in usage is shown in Figure 4. This figure shows the number of CPU minutes consumed by users on the two general purpose mainframes for the month of May 1991 and the number of CPU minutes used by users on workstations (not including the servers) for the month of May 1993. There is a change from 53 thousand to 1.9 million CPU minutes. Considering that many of the workstations were more powerful than the mainframes, the raw computing power consumed was even more dramatic than the figure illustrates. As already noted, there was a dramatic increase in the demand for information services. One measure of the actual use of these services is the number of logins per day. This is shown in Figure 5 for a period of about one year. Clearly growth nearly doubled in this period. It also shows that a significant amount of the growth is due to student use. When the student population is significantly smaller during breaks and the summer, the demand is down. Since one objective in moving to a client/server environment was to place computing resources more directly in the hands of users, it is worth examining how this was accomplished. From the outset, departments were offered computing sites over which they could exercise considerable control. In particular, they were free to schedule the sites to meet their academic computing requirements. The only condition placed on them was the requirement that when their sites were not being used to meet departmental computing needs the workstations had to be available to the entire university community. This includes faculty, staff and students who want to work in the computing site as well as those who simply want to access the computing resources through the network. To acquire a computing site, a department had to provide space for it and to renovate the space appropriately. The department also had to identify how it planned to use the facility to support its academic program. Then, based on available space and computing needs, an appropriate number of workstations were placed in the site. Workstations in such sites were tied into the network and supported and maintained by LUCC. Thus, for a little planning and a modest investment in preparing a site, departments received workstations worth one to three hundred thousand dollars without the need for them to provide any maintenance or basic support. Not surprisingly many departments actively sought such sites. It is important to note that while workstations were being placed in sites available to the public, existing PC publicsites were being upgraded and expanded. Figure 6

illustrates the growth in both PC and workstation sites. Figure 7 shows the growth in the number of PCs and workstations in these sites. All of the sites are connected to the high-speed backbone. The PC sites are also supported by local Novell Netware servers and the workstation sites are supported by the Andrew File System running on two RISC/6000 servers. One concern often expressed about the client/server environment is the cost of hardware maintenance for many distributed computing resources. Surprisingly, hardware maintenance costs for about 150 workstations is less than the hardware maintenance cost for the mainframes they replaced. However, to achieve a lower cost it was necessary seek out the best opportunities. Standard vendor contracts would not have achieved such a result. In particular, third parties were found, some of whom offered excellent value. Ultimately, Lehigh chose to provide self maintenance through its computer store. The store's maintenance operation was already providing PC maintenance for the entire campus. Consequently, it was relatively easy to provide additional training to support workstation maintenance. However, the difference between the best third party proposal and self maintenance was not very great. FIGURES NOT AVAILBLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION Client/Server Software Support One of the greatest initial concerns about moving to the client/server environment was the cost and availability of software. Academic users require a wide range of applications to support their educational programs. To successfully make the switch to the client/server environment, all of the mainframe applications had to be supported. Furthermore, this had to be done without significantly greater costs. As it turned out, this was not nearly as difficult a problem as anticipated. And, as the number of client/server users grows, the problem continues to diminish. A comparison of the costs of some of the major applications in both the mainframe and client/server environments is shown in Table 2. Here it can be seen that the continuing cost to support equivalent client/server software is far less than the mainframe cost. In fact, this comparison includes the costs for a far richer set of client/serve software. Today, the amount of software available in Lehigh's client/server environment is far greater than shown in the Table. Moreover, there is also a great deal of licensed software available for PC users as well. User Support In converting to a new computing environment there are two major support issues that must be dealt with. First it must be possible for users to access client/server applications equivalent to the mainframe applications, and these

applications must have similar look and feel. Indeed, users must be able to use previously created data files and applications in the new environment. Second, there must be opportunities in the client/server environment to access new and better applications, otherwise the user will derive no apparent benefit from the change. Since it is not possible to achieve exactly the same look and feel in both environments, even when the same software is available, users must be convinced of the benefit of changing before they will be supportive and willing to invest the time to master the differences. In turn, users will only be able to understand the benefit of the client/server environment if appropriate information and training is available. When Lehigh made its initial foray into distributed computing via PCs and low-speed data networks, it was decided maximum benefit could only be achieved by making training opportunities available to the users covering a broad range of applications and basic computer literacy. This was done primarily through seminars. The actual attendance at seminars is shown in Figure 8. Note attendance is nearly constant with the number of attendees at about 2000. There is a slight decline in 1994, due to cancellations resulting from bad weather. In fact, what this shows is that attendance is really being limited by the size of the staff available to teach the seminars. FIGURES NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION Though the number of attendees at seminars has remained constant for some years, there has been a shift in the types of seminars being given. This is illustrated in Figure 9. Here a deliberate shift in emphasis to support the client/server, UNIX environment is apparent. This figure shows two other categories. One, labeled NS, is directed to users who want to become more proficient in the use of information services. A second, labeled COMM, is directed to users interested in learning how to access information through the Internet, and who want to learn how to develop their own Internet information sources using Gopher servers and Mosaic home pages. These seminars are targeted at making better use of the client/server environment. A dramatic and steady increase in the number of attendees can be observed as the potential benefits of client/server become more apparent to the users. Figure 10 gives another look at the general trend. FIGURES NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION Information Services Easy access to information services from a wide range of suppliers, both on and off the campus, is one of the major benefits of the client/server environment. New and imaginative services are offered everyday, services that users increasingly understand to be vital to their future. A

wide range of these services is made easily accessible through a common interface. The three computers now providing the services have been extremely successful as noted earlier. Many of the services are shown in Table 3. Nevertheless, as also indicated in the table, there is an array of services requiring significant resources and special support. As time goes on, a large array of servers providing special resources will be commonplace. But this is the beauty of the client/server environment. New services can be easily added and old services can be unbundled and moved from one server to another with relative ease. Looking at the wide range of services now being supplied as one bundle, it is not surprising that the three computers supporting them are having a difficult time keeping pace with their growth. Financial And Personnel Considerations A major reason for moving from a mainframe to a client/server environment is the increased computing opportunities and the significant reduction in the cost of equivalent resources. But hardware and software resources are only part of the cost of supporting a computing activity. People constitute a significant part of the total cost. Therefore, it is natural to explore the total cost of supporting this richer computing environment. Lehigh's Five Year Plan called for budget increases in continuing dollars. It also called for personnel increases. Increases were believed necessary to support significantly enhanced computing resources widely spread across the campus and to deal with the transition, during which time both the mainframe and the client/server environment had to be supported. Figure 11 shows what actually happened with continuing budgets. While the total budget shows an increase, this is due entirely to inflation as reflected in salary and benefit increases. When salaries and wages are subtracted out, the remaining budget is flat in absolute dollars, which implies an actual decrease when inflation is taken into account. It is also useful to see how these budgets compare with Lehigh's General and Education Budget (G&E). This is shown in Figure 12. After a decrease in the late 80s, Computing and Communications' share of the budget remains at about 4%. While continuing dollars have not been increased, there were some one-time dollars which came in through various forms of contributions. Approximately $1.25 Million one-time dollars were obtained, more than half being derived from the agreement to purchase workstations from IBM. FIGURES NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION The Plan also called for an increase in personnel. In fact, the staff has been decreased by 5% with another 2% decrease expected over the next year. In spite of the decreases in budgets and personnel, it has been possible to meet all of the requirements of the Plan. One could conclude that the move to client/server was as successful from a financial and

support point of view as it was from a technology viewpoint. FIGURES NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCII TEXT VERSION