VM Migration


9 Apr 1998

Page contents


As described in the SLAC Strategic Plan for Computing, SLAC is moving from mainframe computing based on VM to a distributed computing paradigm. Current VM mainframe services will be made available through client-server technology to users on desktop PCs and Macintoshes, UNIX workstations, and X Terminals.

End of general service for SLACVM is March 15, 1998. After that date justification will be required for continued use. The final shutdown of SLACVM will be June 1998.

Effective immediately:

The following sections describe the schedule and strategy for transferring major services from VM. Announcements will be made via VM news, the slac.announce.slacvm netnews group, and on this WWW page prior to discontinuing services.

If you have concerns about the VM Migration plans, please contact Chuck Boeheim for assistance. 

What are we migrating to?

SLAC has central support for Windows NT, Macintosh, and UNIX. Your choice from these platforms will be governed by the type of computing you do and possibly by the people with whom you communicate.

You may find you need a mixture of both styles of computing. Since it is relatively easy to access UNIX systems from Macintoshes or PCs, but not vice-versa, a good model for mixed computing is a Mac or PC on the desktop with X-Windows software to access the UNIX systems.

There are many classes and seminars available to help you learn about the new systems. 

How are major services migrating from VM?

* Electronic Mail
Electronic mail is readily available on all other supported platforms. SCS recommends and supports the Eudora Pro  mail reader for PCs and Macs, which is freely available to the SLAC community through a site license. See the classes and seminars list for descriptions and times for Eudora Pro classes.

There are many mail readers available on UNIX, and SCS supports and recommends the pine mail reader.

* Netnews
There are many newsreaders available for all other platforms that are at least as satisfactory as the one on VM; however, SCS has not yet selected the ones that it will support. Netscape 3.0 is a promising candidate for support, however it is not compatible with the production news server. SCS is presently evaluating several news support models whose goal is to provide reliable news service using news readers on all supported platforms.
* Batch Computing and Tape Access
The SCS Compute Farm provides batch computing and has strong similarities to the SLAC Batch system on SLACVM. It provides mechanisms for accessing tapes in the StorageTek Silo or in 8mm or 4mm tape stackers.
* Databases
The following production database applications on SLACVM will continue to be supported on other platforms after SLACVM is shut down. In some cases the migration effort has already begun and in others a migration strategy needs to be addressed.
Application Migration Strategy Status Person Responsible 
Binlist much of functionality will be provided by PeopleSoft; other data provided in Oracle database PERSON;   Diana Gregory 
BFMail functionality assumed by MajorDomo mailing list facility;    George Crane and Bebo White 
Depot Spires application; DONE George Crane 
ELDREQ will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Stores Catalog  will be available in PeopleSoft; search now available via WWW; 
Draw Spires application; will be converted to Unix Oracle; 
Captar moved to Unix Oracle; DONE George Crane 
TMS     Sandra Crawford 
Library will be available via Unix Spires and WWW;   Pat Kreitz 
Purch will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Trainrpt will be moved to Unix Oracle; 
ChartA will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Phonlist will be available in PeopleSoft;    Diana Gregory 
Stores   available via WWW; 
Pubstore will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Commits will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Labor will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Property will be available in PeopleSoft; accessible via WWW 
Cost Reporting will be available in PeopleSoft; 
SNAP Vendors will be available in PeopleSoft; 
Owners of SPIRES databases may choose among three basic migration strategies:
  1. Discontinue providing the database. This will be the choice for many of the SPIRES databases that are to be supplanted by the new Business Information System.
  2. Convert the database to ORACLE, the supported database system on Unix;
  3. Move the database to uSPIRES, an experimental portable version of SPIRES.

Statistics on the current usage of all VM SPIRES databases are available.

George Crane has developed guidelines for VM ORACLE table owners migrating to UNIX. These owners should consider doing the following:
  1. Exporting and archiving existing tables;
  2. Establishing an ORACLE userid in UNIX;
  3. Moving the needed tables, forms, etc. to UNIX;
* Departmental Information Sharing
The Web is taking over the distribution of much of the information that is formally provided by departments and users to others. Classes on accessing the Web are given frequently, and classes on providing information via the Web are scheduled from time to time.

Casual file sharing, of the sort exemplified by GIME <username> commands, is more difficult to provide in a distributed computing environment. The AFS file system provides a common file system to all supported UNIX systems at SLAC (and indeed to anyone running AFS anywhere on the Internet). However, there are not yet good AFS clients for PCs and Macs, though SCS is actively investigating those and expects to provide them in the future.


VM Maintenance Reduction 10/1/96 Maintenance on the ES9021-580 mainframe has been reduced from 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to a per-call basis. 
3800 Printer Removed 8/96 The 3800 printer has become too expensive to operate and maintain, and the floor space is needed for an additional tape silo. Please re-direct small print jobs to your local departmental printers, using the PRT command. For larger jobs, SCS has acquiring a Xerox 4090 printer, which can print 40 sheets per minute. Instructions on the use of this new printer will be made available soon. 
VM Capacity Reduced 7/22/96 The VM system reduced from a 3 CPU configuration to a single CPU. The number of 4490 (cartridge) tape drives has been reduced to 4, and most of the 3380 disk has been taken out of service. These changes are in response to the drastically reduced load on VM after the shutdown of the batch system. 
Morgue for Dead Minidisks 7/22/96 A morgue is now available for minidisks removed from the VM system. On any UNIX system, cd to /nfs/morgue/group/userid, where group is your two-letter group code, and userid is your VM userid. Each minidisk belonging to that account will be a subdirectory. Files from VM are usually in EBCDIC code, and need translation before being readable on UNIX. The vmfile command will translate EBCDIC to ASCII and convert VM record conventions to UNIX conventions. The morgue will provide a snapshot of files on VM when any account is closed, and will have a complete set of all VM accounts when VM is shutdown. The purpose of the morgue is to ease the transition away from VM by providing continued access to VM files after the end of VM service. 

Note that the minidisk morgue is only for "dead" minidisks. Some VM accounts have been disabled for login but their minidisks have not yet been moved to the morgue and then removed from VM. Such minidisks can be NFS-mounted from UNIX just as before the account was diabled; for example, by cd-ing to a path of the form, /nfs/slacvm/userid.vadr, where vadr is the virtual address of the particular minidisk (e.g., "191" for your A disk). Accessing a VM file via this path provides an automatic EBCDIC to ASCII conversion. 

VM Account and Minidisk closures 4/2/96  On July 1, 1996, unused VM minidisks were deleted and unused accounts closed. All minidisks* that have not been linked since November 10, 1995 are considered unused. All accounts* that have no remaining minidisks after these are removed are considered unused. The data from the minidisks will be recoverable from the VM backup system for the remainder of the lifetime of the VM system. 
VM Batch and Staging systems closed 4/2/96  The VM Batch and Staging systems restricted to only authorized users who have submitted justification for continued use of the system. 

* SLAC-only links 

What is the schedule for service migration?

Action Relevant Date 
Budget application moves to PeopleSoft 2/1/97 
HRMS and Payroll move to PeopleSoft 7/1/97 
ELDREQ moves to PeopleSoft 7/1/97 
SLAC Library data moves to Unix 7/1/97 
Financials application moves to PeopleSoft 10/1/97 
Purchasing moves to PeopleSoft 10/1/97 
Justification for VM required 3/15/98 
SLACVM shutdown 6/98


Future items to be scheduled:

Owner: Bebo