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M21, the e-DBMS for the 21st century

M is an integrated programming language and database management system used in tens of thousands of applications on computers ranging from PCs to IBM Mainframes.

It is the most portable system in the world with implementations on over 200 of the most popular hardware platforms. More importantly, because it is so highly efficient, hardware upgrades are avoided by using existing equipment more efficiently.

Applications range from small database applications where flexibility of design and speed of access are priorities, to the very largest.

Some examples of large M users are:

  • Partners Healthcare (Boston, USA) has the largest integrated client/server network in the world with 33,000 connected users, over 5,000 simultaneous users averaging 3.6 billion database hits per day.
  • Ameritrade, an online brokerage business in the US, has grown 100% this year and has recorded 12 billion transactions per day over the web.

The performance of M is truly astonishing. Intersystems quote the following for Caché, their implementation of M.

"...with SQL performance then we typically find that Caché is between 2 and 20 times faster than the legacy SQL databases such as Oracle, Informix, Sybase etc. The exact performance increase depending on data complexity, join complexity etc."

Again, KLAS Enterprises published a report in January 2002 comparing Caché with Oracle, and concluded that Caché outperformed Oracle by more than 2:1 in hardware required and 2.5:1 in Database Accesses required.

PRIAM business software, based on the M21 implementation of M, records performance improvements of 2 to 20 times the performance of other databases.

So, What is M Technology ?

M technology is a programming language, database management system and 'sub-operating' system i.e. tasks are controlled by M within the limits of say NT or UNIX.

The main features of M are:

  • A comprehensive procedural language
  • Support for object-style event-driven processing
  • In integrated hierarchical data management facility
  • Bullet-proof database security and transaction processing
  • A multi-user, multi-tasking operating environment
  • Integrated interprocess communication
  • Support for distributed data and distributed processing
  • High-performance client-server networking capabilities

Also integrated in M technology are:

  • Relational data manipulation tools
  • Industry standard SQL
  • SQL based connectivity
  • Interfaces to windowing managers
  • ANSI X3.64 standard support for character devices
  • ANSI GKS standard support for graphic devices

M is Portable

The fact that M is so portable ensues from it being an ANSI standard language and database. This means that anybody can develop M in accordance with the standard and so there are now many implementations of M that can be transferred from machine to machine, operating system to operating system in minutes rather than weeks.

Nearly a dozen vendors implement the M ANSI standard language on more than 200 platforms from the smallest to the largest and under virtually every known operating system around the world. Various M tools available through independent vendors provide data dictionaries and other management functions.

Originally developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology MUMPS as it was then named was only the third language (after COBOL and FORTRAN), and the first database to be given the ANSI standard.

The identical standard has been adopted by ISO, BSI and FIPS. A worldwide M Development Committee evaluates enhancement requests and recommends improvements to the standard.

M Technology supports new developments in computing technology - distributed databases, Windows and GUI's, SQL, XML, Web servers and client-server architecture - while the standard ensures backward compatibility.

M is Scalable

Companies such as Ameritrade and Partners Healthcare System Inc. cited earlier show the scalability of M. How is this possible?

M has evolved from the mini and mainframe computer world where enormous numbers of users accessed gigantic databases. M just doesn't compare to the type of database systems that have evolved in the PC era, but the beauty of it is that this super-performing database management system is easily ported to PCs thus gaining the benefit of an extremely inexpensive platform to run on. Obviously the cost/benefits of an M system outweigh any other.

M provides Performance

An idea of the performance gain of M over other technologies is given in the examples given previously.

The Department of Justice in Switzerland handles some 1.5 million transactions a day arising from 1,400 workstations in 43 locations. Switching from Sybase to Caché improved their performance 20 times over.

Studies show that M can, for the same processing with the same response time, cut processing power requirements by more than a factor of four when compared to relational database management systems and also reduce disk usage dramatically.

Cost Effective / Flexible Programming

Programming under M is much faster than with conventional languages. A typical M program requires less than 8% of the number of statements of a comparable COBOL program.

M combines an application programming language, a job control language, a linkage editor, a database management system and a data communications monitor. All these combine to produce a comprehensive yet flexible development and production environment.

One major reason for the performance obtained from M and its ease of programming lies in having a language with an integrated database - there is no separate process of calling/linking to another piece of software or language complexities.

World-wide Support for M

M is supported by M Technology Associations located across the United States, UK, Europe (including Eastern Europe), the Pacific Rim and South America. These groups are vendor-independent with members from hardware and software vendors, academic institutions and end-users. There are also many independent local MUMPS User Groups in the United States.

Examples of M Users

  • Ameritrade
  • Bank of England
  • Barclays Bank
  • Beijing Medical University
  • British Gas
  • British Petroleum
  • Budgens
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • Chase Manhattan Bank
  • Coca Cola and Schweppes
  • Cornhill Insurance
  • Department of Health & Social Security UK (DHSS)
  • Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)
  • Domestic & General
  • Dow Chemicals
  • English Tourist Board
  • Equity & Law
  • Esso
  • Games Workshop
  • General Motors
  • Grecian Holidays
  • Hamburg Ports Authority
  • Helsinki University Hospital
  • Hoffman La Roche
  • Hoverspeed
  • ICI
  • Indian Health Service
  • Istel
  • Jewson
  • Koor Foods, Israel
  • KPMG
  • Legal & General Insurance
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Meyer International
  • Ministry of Defence (UK)
  • National Health Service
  • National Westminster Bank
  • Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij
  • New York Stock Exchange
  • Psychiatric Institutes of America
  • Reed Information Services
  • RIPAS Hospital, Brunei
  • Shell
  • Smithsonian Institute
  • Soviet Parliament
  • Swiss Parliament
  • Tottenham Hotspurs FC
  • Trinity College
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Cologne
  • US Department of Defense
  • Waterford Crystal
  • West Ham United FC

The Future

Computing's next generation, a generation of interoperability.

Having read the detail above, and being new to M, you must agree that M is computing's best kept secret. This arose because M is so good - the ANSI standard meant that there was a world-wide community committed to M but not being commercially driven had no 'marketing department'. Moreover M was traditionally used by developers who didn't broadcast the product that gave them a competitive advanatage over their rivals.

Quietly, M has grown into a strong and multifaceted contender in the information technology marketplace. As it grew, M generated a loyal following of both programmers and users. According to a recent market survey by Gartner Group, Inc., this loyalty is attributed to M's excellent reliability, database capabilities, productivity, and system availability and expandability. M's speed picked up until it rated as one of the best "bang-for-the-buck" transaction processors around. It unfolded a binding to the popular data interface SQL and it gained an open system interconnect to put it a class ahead of other open systems today. Another Gartner Group report forecast that M would grow at 4 times the rate of other technologies and we are certain that the commercial orientation of companies now pushing the technology forward will prove this.