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NHS Scotland, Dundee
|Fujitsu VME COBOL
Micro Focus COBOL
FIST was a syndicate formed in 1980, by a group of NHS hospitals, to jointly develop Financial and Health Service application software for its members. The total annual spend of the NHS members was in excess of £100 million, serving over 3 million people.
In 1994, FIST was comprised of 26 Hospital Trusts based in Dundee and used a Fujitsu VME mainframe. Data was input over a network and there were remote printers in every Trust.
FIST wanted to migrate their two major systems - Financial and Contract Management - to a Unix platform with RDBMS. Out of 22 responses they selected Legacy Software Downsizing because their unique method of automated migration offered the optimum solution. LSD was also able to offer a fixed price quotation which avoided the worry of expensive over-runs.
The modules making up the Financial System were:
- General Ledger
- Accounts Receivable
- Report Writer
- Payments (Non-Accounts Payable)
- Staff Statistics
- Accounts Payable
- Annual Accounts
- Capital Assets
- Endowments & Donations
- Payroll Analysis
- Control Module
The Contract Management System co-ordinated contracts between purchasers and providers.
The total size of the project was 482,000 lines, consisting of 360,000 lines of COBOL and 122,000 lines of SCL. There were 1033 different TP Screens and 510 Batch Programs. The Batch Programs were controlled by 170 Job Control Programs. The platform agreed upon was the Sun Sparc Server 1000 with 128Mb of memory, a Sparc Storage array and an overall disc capacity of 12Gb.
The project delivery stages were as follows:
- Because FIST were going from an IDMS database to Oracle the first step was to deliver the Oracle Database Definitions. This took place eight weeks after contract signing.
- The embedded SQL to access the Oracle database was delivered about one month later. In addition to the IDMS database there were over 50 Flat Files which LSD also converted to Oracle.
- The Financial Systems used on-line printing, so LSD had to create for FIST the LSD Utility now called LSD Timer and Print Spooler.
- The testing of the 845 screens in Financials took six weeks, the 188 screens in Contracts 3 weeks. FIST were amazed that the screens looked exactly the same on the Sun platform as they had on VME.
- FIST used SCL as a programming language as well as for Job Control, but despite the complexity LSD converted it automatically to Korn Shell scripts.
- The final stage was delivery of both systems fully operational and using Micro Focus COBOL.
Migration by the LSD methodology eliminates the need for emulation or middleware, thus improving performance. To illustrate this, the speed of the largest batch run was ten times faster on the Unix box than it had been on VME.
Also, because the system on Unix was identical to the one on the mainframe, there was no need to retrain the 400 users of the FIST systems. This represented major cost savings and smooth transition from the mainframe to Unix, with none of the disruption associated with re-engineering or re-writing.
Postscript: Three Years On
FIST became FINIX (FIST on Unix) after the migration. FINIX is an example of how an organisation's IT can be revitalised by a LSD renovation of their Legacy System(s). FINIX has since transformed their Contract Management System from a 'green screen' application to a modern GUI Oracle-based system running on Sun under Unix.
Using Micro Focus Net Express, they have been able to replace the old character based screens with modern Windows-style equivalents.
The migrated system is much faster than the old VME system for response times and Batch jobs. After twenty years as a totally dedicated VME site the best thing we did was to use LSD to migrate us to Sun and Oracle. The benefits of Open System Technology have enabled us to increase our efficiency and expand our services to the Scottish Health Service at a lower cost.
The new system was easy to learn - no starting from scratch. It is far more user friendly, easier to follow, with easier user access. I particularly like Help features such as Indicators which mean that I can't go wrong. The Topic Selection and the Display Option are very useful, and I especially like the Activity Amendments which are easy to get into. There is nothing from the old system that I miss and the migration has resulted in a vast improvement.
David Cook (User)
Tayside Primary Health Care
Postscript: Ten Years On
Ten years after the Contracts Management System was migrated successfully from VME to Sun (Solaris) and Oracle RDBMS it is alive and well. We have changed the character-based 'green screens' to a Windows-based GUI. The Oracle RDBMS database is linked to a Business Objects Universe for Management Reporting, and the cost of supporting it is a fraction of what it used to be on the Fujitsu VME Mainframe.
Head of NHS Tayside ICT Dept
FINIX is now known as the NHS Tayside ICT Department