After college (‘gymnasium’ in the Swedish school system) and military services, I was admitted to the KTH (Royal Technical High school of Stockholm), I declined by mistake (I checked ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’, very much me). I got a job post process printouts from the computer of Atlas Copco. Ever since I been involved in computer operations one way or another.
Computer operations is many things. One important thing is background jobs, actually at that time when I started, background jobs was all there was in the IBM 360 computer of Atlas Copco. The GUI was printouts, computer terminals and ‘online computing’ came a little later with ergonomical advices about viewing angle, how to sit, how to prepare yourself before you logged into the system and never work more than two hours in front of the terminal etc. Job scheduling in IBM 360/390 was done by Job Control Language JCL, a horrible language that depended on Condition Codes for evaluating the outcome of executions. The logic behind the Condition Code was awkward in a way I never really understood, even thou I became proficient in JCL. Unfortunately I lost close contact with IBM mainframes 1994, but I believe JCL is still around.
Early on we built a job scheduling system on top of JCL to control job execution. Later I implemented a system created by a Californian software company (I have forgot the name). These Californian guys were considered cool because they wore sneakers to their business suites. I had created a job simulator to this system and at a German user meeting in Munich after a wet dinner I was persuaded to present my simulator the next day, having a terrible stage fright I didn’t agree but said ‘sure but only if I can do it in lederhosen and a Tyrolean hat’ and didn’t think more of it. The next morning having a bad hangover the Californians woke me up with a full Bavarian outfit. I did the presentation and to my astonishment it was well received. Some months later a schoolmate of mine called me up and said ‘ I heard about a guy holding a presentation about job scheduling in lederhosen and I said to myself it can only be you’. I think I have worked with all major job scheduling systems for IBM mainframes (and some with Unix systems too).
Job scheduling is basically submitting a chain of jobs for controlled execution. Good monitoring capabilities and automation is important. In the beginning of the 1980ties I help a German guy Florian to create a system for engineers, a bridge system between the CAD system and the MRP system (which I had built). Florian was a very bright guy, I think he was a linguist or something, he had gone on a motorcycle vacation to Sweden, met a girl in Stockholm and never returned to Germany. He got himself a job at Atlas Copco helping the engineers to documenting new constructions. He found and read Mims reference manual. (Mims is the best software ever made for development of complex applications if you ask me.) Anyway Florian asked me to help him set up a system, and we created a system with fully automated background job scheduling, sending mail notifications of the execution results!
Encouraged by the success of Florian’s system, I persuaded my boss to make the entire operation automatic, which we actually did (I left Atlas Copco before it was fully implemented.) We bought a Siemens robot which we trained to load tape cassettes, there were some initial problems, the robot was muscular he had no problem pushing in both two and three cassettes into the tape drive at once, and he had bad eyesight randomly he picked the wrong tapes, it took a long time before we realized the robot needed more light to read the barcode on the cassettes. But Atlas Copco made the operations fully automated no operators supervised the mainframe. Then the operations was outsourced to Ericsson. Later I came back to Atlas Copco and led the transition of the operation of my old systems from Ericsson to Tieto Enator. Now most of this is scrapped and migrated into SAP systems running on IBM computers in Belgium. There is actually one system left which I have done some initial work on ‘the Funnel’, I also came up with that name. (The original name was ‘tratten’ which is ‘the funnel’ in Swedish I did the translation.) It’s a program to program comms system, in operations for more than thirty five years now. Still all Atlas Copco’s Sales Orders are routed through the Funnel.This was not what I had in mind for this post, the intension was to write about a job scheduling system I have written for our Business Intelligence application the Data Warehouse with the title ’The anatomy of a background job’.