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[ontolog-forum] Accommodating legacy software

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2012 09:48:43 -0400
Message-id: <503F6F3B.7050800@xxxxxxxxxxx>
The wonderful new opportunities for ontology, Big Data, and
the Semantic Web are constant themes in Ontolog Forum.  But I
keep emphasizing the point that the new systems must accommodate
the huge amount of legacy software that will not go away.    (01)

I learned that lesson when I was at IBM.  Following is a recent
article about IBM mainframes (a few excerpts below).    (02)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/technology/ibm-mainframe-evolves-to-serve-the-digital-world.html    (03)

For another ancient legacy, just consider the Intel X86 architecture,
which they considered obsolete in the early 1980s.  It evolved from
Intel's first microprocessor, the 4004.  That had a 4-bit data path
with a maximum RAM of 1K bytes.  It was extended to the 8008, the
8080, the 8086, and the 8088.    (04)

In the 1980s, Intel designed a clean new 32-bit architecture to
replace it.  But customers wanted upward compatibility, and Intel's
shiny new chip was a failure.  They continued with the 286, 386,
486, and Pentium.    (05)

In the 1990s, Intel considered the Pentium the end of the road,
and they developed the new Itanium, which was not a bad design.
But it was incompatible with x86.  So the latest and greatest
new chips from Intel still have the oldest and ugliest detritus
from the 4004 buried in their structure.    (06)

Fundamental principle:  Any revolutionary new designs for ontology,
logic, Big Data, the Semantic Web, or anything else *must* support
a smooth growth path from the old systems.  The legacy systems can
evolve to support the new, but they will never go away completely.    (07)

John Sowa
___________________________________________________________________    (08)

Excerpts from "I.B.M. Mainframe Evolves to Serve the Digital World"    (09)

The death of the mainframe has been predicted many times over the years. 
But it has prevailed because it has been overhauled time and again. In 
the early 1990s, the personal computer revolution took off and I.B.M., 
wedded to its big-iron computers, was in deep trouble. To make the 
mainframe more competitive, its insides were retooled, using low-cost 
microprocessors as the computing engine.    (010)

Like any threatened species that survives, the mainframe evolved. It has 
been tweaked to master new programming languages, like Java, and new 
software operating systems, like Linux.    (011)

“The mainframe is the most flexible technology platform in computing,” 
said Rodney C. Adkins, I.B.M.’s senior vice president for systems and 
technology...    (012)

The sale of mainframe computers accounts for only about 4 percent of 
I.B.M.’s revenue these days. Yet the mainframe is a vital asset to 
I.B.M. because of all the business that flows from it. When all the 
mainframe-related software, services and storage are included, mainframe 
technology delivers about 25 percent of I.B.M.’s revenue and more than 
40 percent of its profits, estimates A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at 
Sanford C. Bernstein...    (013)

A mainframe costs more than $1 million, and higher-performance models 
with peripheral equipment often cost $10 million or more. Yet even young 
companies and emerging nations, analysts say, find the expense worth it 
for some tasks.    (014)

Comepay, for instance, is a fast-growing company that says it operates 
more than 10,000 self-service payment kiosks in Russia, where consumers 
pay for products and services ranging from Internet service and 
cellphones to electric bills. Comepay handles millions of transactions a 
day, and the volume is rising. The Russian company bought an I.B.M. 
mainframe in 2010.    (015)

“Mainframes are extremely reliable,” said Ruslan Stepanenko, chief 
information officer of Comepay. “It keeps working even when the 
transaction load is very high.”    (016)

Last year, the Senegal Ministry of Finance bought two I.B.M. mainframes 
to help monitor all the imports, exports and customs duties at the 
African country’s 30 border checkpoints...    (017)

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