Decomissioning of the communication's mainframe

Denis Johnston and Dr Ashton Calvert

On Friday 23 June 2000, the Secretary, Dr Ashton Calvert, hit the return button to issue the final <I SHUT> command to the IBM mainframe computer that has, since 1979, been the backbone of the global communications network. That commmand initiated a sequence of procedures required to achieve safe shutdown of the mainframe.

The system has provided exemplary service over the past 21 years. It began operation in Canberra in February 1979 with nodes in London and Washington commissioned in April and July respectively. 1980 saw the introduction of the laser printing systems and distribution of considerable volumes of paper cables three times daily.

This system remained in operation from 1979 through to 1988. During that time there were fewer than fives outages lasting longer than four hours. In 1988 the system was simplified and the nodes in Washington and London were decommissioned. The mainframe in Canberra became responsible for the operation of the entire network.

By 1996 it has become apparent, in the absence of ADCNET Release 3, that the mainframe would have to be relocated to the R G casey Building. This was acheived with a two and a half day outage, 24 hours of which was caused by a goods lift failure in the R G Casey Building.

The mainframe has been replaced by a new system known as ER3 which has been progressively implemented starting in January 2000 and concluding in mid-June, enabling the system to be decommissioned on 23 June 2000 after twenty-one years of solid reliable service.

Source: DFATNEWS Vol 7 No 9.