04 - IDMS In The Eighties Rise And Fall Of Cullinet

Document created by lindajcasey on Apr 21, 2011Last modified by Lenn Thompson on Jun 15, 2014
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Cullinane Database Systems developed the system further. The main enhancement was the addition of an integrated online component - IDMSDC. In addition to its usage as a database server to be used with IBM's CICS, now IDMS could support a complete DB/DC environment of its own. Nick Rini (R) and Don Heitzman (H) led the DC development team , who also contributed to the 'RH' in RHDC prefix of IDMS modules. With the addition of ADS/OnLine 4GL IDMS was the leader in the database market. The dictionary - IDD - became a complete online dictionary - the only active dictionary in the market that time. A datamation report dated 1984 said that 4 out of 5 new IBM customers opted for IDMS.


By this time, the name was changed to Cullinet and it became the first software company to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange. It was also the first software company to hit the $100 million! This was the time IBM was reluctantly entering the relational market. "System/R" research was going on at IBM lab at San Jose quite some time. Commercially the first product was "SQL/DS" on VM (1981), probably intended for simple queries. DB2 made its reluctant debut much later (1983). Reluctant, because even IBM was not sure what it was for "DB2 was first introduced on the MVS operating system in 1983. At that time, the product̢ۼ s mission was to deliver the power of the Structured Query Language (SQL) for decision support or ad hoc query applications." [SG24-5273-00 Accessing DB2 for OS/390 Data from the World Wide Web, Nov 1998] Cullinet never approved the relational model. Why should they? The DB/DC system built around the CODASYL model was a huge commercial success. Truly it was the first system to be built fully around an active dictionary - our well known IDD!


But Cullinet did a marketing blunder with the Release 10.0 of the product. That was advertising the product as relational! Recall the big IDMS/R advertisements? ASF component was the 'relational' part! ASF was built using LRF which itself was not bad as long as one restricted the usage to retrieval only (like VIEWs in relational systems). One could make a table and a builtin map and dialog automatic. But there it stopped. Database is more than a simple standalone table. Using ASF one could join two tables. But there was no way to connect a group of tables to a dailog or a COBOL program. Besides the all important 'SQL' was missing. In short, there was no real R in IDMS/R. Eventhough the other components in the group, ICMS and Goldengate were good for 1984 (Goldengate/ICMS provided the first integrated PC access to mainframe data!), the R failure overshadowed evreything! Good or bad is a different thing - one cannot claim one's product to be relational without having a relational product and without endorsing the model itslef! This eventually dragged IDMS into the discussion with Dr Codd (the infamous 12 Rules). 12 rules were not the Bible of Database Theory, but it served its purpose - broadcasting and proving IDMS/R as conforming to none of the 12 Rules! [In reality, there was no point in including IDMS into the 12 Rules discussion, beacuse IDMS was not a relational system, then. If Cullinet hadn't claimed IDMS to be relational, then Codd could not have included the product in his comparison (eg: IMS was not included in the comparison)]