System Software - IBM Mainframe

Another distinction among computers is the scope of the system software required to manage the computer system's resources so that application programs can perform useful work. The cornerstone of system software is the operating system, a set of programs that directly controls the operation of the computer. Microcomputers have a relatively simple operating system, 4uch as the Microsoft Windows operating system used on IBM Personal Computers. Minicomputer systems generally have more complex operating systems so that they can effectively manage a larger configuration of equipment. And mainframe computer systems have operating systems that are complex beyond imagination. The MVS operating system, which includes TSO, is among the most sophisticated and complex mainframe operating systems in use today.

One way to appreciate the increasing complexity of these operating systems is to consider the number of technical manuals that accompany an operating system. Microsoft Windows, the most commonly used microcomputer operating system, is thoroughly documented in a single manual. The operating system for a popular minicomputer system like OS/400 is documented in about a dozen manuals. The MVS operating system has hundreds of manuals. In fact, IBM publishes a document that contains a 200-page listing of over 10,000 publications related to the System/360-370 family.SYSTEM SOFTWARE

Another distinction among computers is the scope of the system software required to manage the computer system's resources so that application programs can perform useful work. The cornerstone of system software is the operating system, a set of programs that directly controls the operation of the computer. Microcomputers have a relatively simple operating system, 4uch as the Microsoft Windows operating system used on IBM Personal Computers. Minicomputer systems generally have more complex operating systems so that they can effectively manage a larger configuration of equipment. And mainframe computer systems have operating systems that are complex beyond imagination. The MVS operating system, which includes TSO, is among the most sophisticated and complex mainframe operating systems in use today.

One way to appreciate the increasing complexity of these operating systems is to consider the number of technical manuals that accompany an operating system. Microsoft Windows, the most commonly used microcomputer operating system, is thoroughly documented in a single manual. The operating system for a popular minicomputer system like OS/400 is documented in about a dozen manuals. The MVS operating system has hundreds of manuals. In fact, IBM publishes a document that contains a 200-page listing of over 10,000 publications related to the System/360-370 family.

Another factor that indicates the complexity of an operating system is the need for specialized programmers to maintain the operating system. Microcomputers almost never require programmers to maintain their operating systems; instead, the end user learns how to use the operating system without help. Since minicomputer systems are more complex, they sometimes require a programmer to keep the operating system working properly. Some minicomputer systems, however, do not require fulltime programmers to maintain their operating systems. In contrast, mainframe installations cannot function without a staff of systems programmers working fulltime to keep the system software in shape. The job of the systems programmer includes installing new system software, updating the software to reflect changes made to the hardware or software configuration, optimizing the software so it runs efficiently, and correcting errors in the operating system. In many ways, it is the complexity of the operating system that most clearly distinguishes mainframe computers from smaller computers. So, the next section introduces you to several basic facilities provided by mainframe computer operating systems.


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