GE Appliances is the appliance division of the General Electric Corporation and is located in Louisville, Kentucky. We design, manufacture, sell and service large appliances of all kinds including refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, ranges and microwave ovens.

GE Appliances runs several mission-critical applications on a Bull GCOS8 mainframe system. These applications include order entry, transportation, customer billing and service call scheduling. It is our goal to maintain and extend these critical applications by making important business data available on a more current hardware platform and database architecture.

Because our current Bull mainframe environment has a considerable amount of home-grown operating software, commercial middleware solutions were not readily available to us. We elected to develop a real-time data feed between the Bull mainframe and HP/Oracle environment based upon the Bus-Tech Data-Blaster. Of all the connectivity options available to us, we selected the Bus-Tech Data-Blaster because of its performance, machine efficiency, ease of installation and ease of software development.

We are using an HP 9000 N Class system as the database server platform, and we are using Oracle8.0.5 as the database engine. The Bull mainframe is accessed and updated from terminals, PCs and via the Web. When update transactions are processed on the Bull system, we utilize permanent DataBlaster connections to deliver database updates in real time to the HP/Oracle environment.

This approach is allowing us to selectively move workload from the Bull mainframe. We are able to quickly move high-cost Bull mainframe processes to the lower cost HP/Oracle environment with greatly reduced risk because we can move these processes one at a time.

This may sound like a complex effort, but implementation was eased by using the DataBlaster. Because the DataBlaster presents itself to the Bull GCOS8 system as a standard 3480 tape drive, we were able to reuse quite a bit of software which interfaces with 3480 tapes. The device is completely transparent to 3GL languages such as COBOL and C, allowing us to write application-level software with minimal worry about the hardware underpinnings. All told, basic data exchange was up and running in just a few weeks time.

High-Volume Data Exchange

While implementing the real-time data exchange, we discovered an additional use for our DataBlaster. In the past the exchange of large amounts of data between our Bull mainframe and our HP environment was somewhat tedious and complex. Because of file size limitations imposed on the Bull GCOS8 system, we found it necessary to unload our databases in pieces. We would then have to rebuild these pieces into a comprehensive Oracle database. We have discovered that by using the tape transport mechanism of the Data-Blaster, we are able to stream data between these two disparate environments at tape I/O speeds into single large files on the HP UNIX system. This data transfer approach promises to considerably reduce human error.

Overall, our experience with Bus-Tech's DataBlaster has been outstanding. The DataBlaster is extremely reliable and very fast. Without the DataBlaster, it would have been a tough challenge to cost-effectively implement the project. The high level of service and the responsiveness of the Bus-Tech technical support staff made this complex implementation much more straightforward.

Network bandwidth and MIPS have grown exponentially over the last few years, but network I/O has not kept pace. This is caused by, among other things, protocol stacks (TCP/IP, SNA, etc.), and the inherent overhead they impose on data transfers.

DataBlaster 2 is revolutionary because it combines high- speed data movement from mainframe channels over a tightly coupled SCSI backbone. DataBlaster 2 eliminates transport protocol overhead by providing a separate data highway. This is accomplished using existing high-bandwidth connectivity interfaces such as IBM's ESCON (17.5 MBps) channel and Ultra Wide SCSI (40 MBps ) connections.

Bus-Tech, Inc., founded in 1987, is the industry's leading provider of state-of-the-art connectivity solutions for the data center to original equipment manufacturers. The company's powerful suite of adapter and platform solutions satisfy even the most rugged demands of data processing professionals for high-bandwidth, high-availability and high-performance connectivity. With more than 15,000 installed sites worldwide, Bus-Tech is a recognized leader in the data center interconnect market. Headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, the company is privately held with locations around the world.

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