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Forsythe Mainframe Retirement


Forsythe mainframe services ended permanently on December 15, 2003.

For 30 years, the IBM mainframe was the computing workhorse for the Stanford community. As its processor power and storage capacity grew over the decades, the mainframe served as the central resource for campus administration and a valuable tool for academic and computing research. The wide array of resources that Forsythe has housed include accounting and human resources applications, student and donor records, email systems, centralized printing, and user files.

In recent years, computing technology has moved from large mainframes running in-house software via dumb terminals to small servers running packaged software via personal computers. Stanford's enterprise systems for human resources, budgets and accounting, and student records have all moved off the mainframe to packaged, server-based systems. Email, document preparation, and file storage have likewise moved off the mainframe to very powerful desktop computers.

The mainframe era officially ended on December 15, 2003 when the last of the mainframe accounts was closed down. ITSS will dismantle the hardware early in 2004.

Where Have the Mainframe Functions Moved?


EMS email, Forsythe distribution lists, and group email accounts were replaced by Leland ( email, majordomo ( lists , and IMAP group accounts.

Text files and other stored data have been transferred to other systems by account owners.

Some SPIRES and Prism resources have been converted to a new Unix computer called Spires.


Financial systems, human resources, student records, administrative reporting, and IT services (e.g., phone and cable television) formerly run on the mainframe are now being handled by the following software packages: Oracle, PeopleSoft, ReportMart, and Pinnacle.

Old data and applications that could not be translated to the aforementioned packages have been moved to a smaller host computer, known as the Spires computer. Functions hosted by the Spires computer include:

  • historical financial data: SUFIN, SNAP, and PCard
  • transaction processing applications: FAAS, SPIDERS, MeSA, A-PLAC, and Training Registration

To find out how each of Stanford's enterprise applications was transitioned from the mainframe to other systems, see the applications/data replacement matrix.

How Does One Use the Spires Computer?

Instructions for accessing data on the Spires computer are located at

Last modified Friday, 03-Mar-2006 10:32:45 AM

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