Mainframe Training

Written by Shirley Parker
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For those people only familiar with the PC or Mac, the idea of a computer running thousands of processes simultaneously will seem less than believable. At least until you see one that's been set up, or listen to all that quiet humming coming from within the still huge steel cabinets. However, as a general rule, a single computer no longer needs to occupy an entire room. From the original IBM System/360 to the IBM zSeries 900 of today, the IBM machines share the same architecture, with all models essentially capable of running the same programs.

Other mainframes have been made by Amdahl, Unisys and Hitachi. (Some people also refer to the IBM AS/400 or iSeries systems as mainframes. But this is not correct; they are mid-range servers.) However, each mainframe was an island. It could not be networked to another mainframe. Communication was achieved by mailing magnetic tapes, which stored the data, to another physical location. Of course, someone had to be responsible for the physical integrity of the mainframe and the tapes. Damage, modification and theft were all issues. The Cold War brought more and more mainframes on line to deal with U.S. military expansion, and Department of Defense research produced an early version of an Internet.

Mainframe hardware has changed, of course, over the past 30 to 40 years. Disk drives have completely replaced drums and datacells (magnetic strips wrapped around a drum). Doing away with drums and datacells also eliminated the physical damage that could occur whenever cells jammed in a storage slot. In addition, processing power has greatly improved.

Mainframe Training Classes

As long as attendees have a good grasp of computer hardware and operating systems, additional prerequisites are normally not required to attend a mainframe training class. It's expected that students will likely be IT managers in the making, or future systems programmers, application developers, network administrators, and so forth. The instructor will discuss the differences between PCs and mainframes, explain multiprocessing, and talk about input and output devices.

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