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VOLUME 5, NUMBER 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1979 



Time 
Sharing 
Costs 


A COST COMPARISON 
OF COMMERCIAL 
TIME-SHARING SYSTEMS 

A special report prepared 
for ATSU Members 
by Real Decisions Corporation 

Page 2 


Enclosed For ATSU Members Who Enclosed for ASCU Members Who 

Subscribe to the Interactive Computing Directories: Subscribe to the BENCHMARK REPORT: 

I. FINANCIAL MODELING LANGUAGES Benchmarks of the Datapoint 1170, 

V. DATA BASES AVAILABLE TO USERS including speed tests, “real life” problems, 

XXX. REMOTE BATCH SERVICES ease-of-use tests, and user comments. 


Interactive Computing is published every other month by the Association of Time-Sharing Users, Inc., P.O. Box 9003, Boulder, CO 80301. Second-class postage paid at Boulder, CO 

























A COST COMPARISON OF 


Preface 


COMMERCIAL TIMESHARING SYSTEMS 
January, 1979 


The Association of Time Sharing Users (ATSU) has commissioned Real Decisions 
Corporation (RDC) to develop this special report covering a cost comparison 
of the results of running one benchmark-type program on seventeen (17) dif¬ 
ferent timesharing services. The objective of this report is to demonstrate 
the necessity of running benchmarks on prospective vendors' services as part 
of the total evaluation effort. RDC regularly runs standardized benchmark- 
type programs on Remote Computer Services vendors and periodically publishes 
the results. ATSU specifically requested this special report to be focused 
on one of RDC's standard benchmark programs. Users are cautioned not to 
construe these results as being representative of any particular vendor's 
capabilities or cost profile. 


Making a decision between vendors of Remote Computing Services comes after 
a review of your corporate DP history, current facilities and level of satis¬ 
faction in line with your basic objectives and long term plans. Once you 
understand your current workload, project future requirements and establish 
acceptable standards, you are ready to get down to the serious work of vendor 
selection or review. There are many elements to consider in determining the 
right vendor for you and your application. This report only deals with one 
of those elements - benchmark costs. While costs are only one factor to con¬ 
sider in making a vendor decision, RDC believes that the dramatic differences 
in costs documented herein provide enough reason to carefully evaluate alter¬ 
native vendors. 


The vendors contained in this report were chosen by RDC on the basis of its 
experience in the marketplace. RDC does not represent that these seventeen 
timesharing services comprise an exhaustive list of all such RCS vendors. 
Other may choose to evaluate different vendors for reasons pertinent to their 
needs. 


From time to time, RDC runs its standard benchmark programs on additional RCS 
services to expand the list of vendors contained in its reports. Interested 
vendors should contact RDC for the criteria necessary to be included in future 
reports. 


©Copyright 1979 by Real Decisions Corporation. 





Vendors included in this Special Report are: 

Name 

ADP Network Services, Inc. 

Boeing Computer Services 
Boeing Computer Services 
CallData Systems, Inc, 

CallData Systems, Inc. 

Computer Sciences Corporation 
CompuServe Network, Inc. 

Control Data Corp. (CYBERNET Services) 
General Electric Information Services 
McDonnell Douglas Automation Co, 

National CSS, Inc. 

On-Line Systems, Inc. 

Rapidata, Inc. 

Service Bureau Company 
Tymshare, Inc. 

Tymshare, Inc. 

United Computing Systems, Inc. 


Headquarters Hardware 


Abbr. 

Location 

Utilized 

ADP 

Ann Arbor, MI 

DEC 

BCS-C 

Morristown, NJ 

CDC 

BCS-I 

Morristown, NJ 

IBM 

CDS-D 

Woodbury, NY 

DEC 

CDS-H 

Woodbury, NY 

Honeywell 

CSC 

El Segundo, CA 

Univac 

CSV 

Columbus, OH 

DEC 

CYB 

Minneapolis, MN 

CDC 

GE 

Bethesda, MD 

Honeywell 

MCA 

St, Louis, MO 

CDC 

NCS 

Wilton, CT 

IBM 

OLS 

Pittsburgh, PA 

DEC 

RAP 

Fairfield, NJ 

DEC 

SBC 

Greenwich, CT 

IBM 

TYM-D 

Cupertino, CA 

DEC 

TYM-I 

Cupertino, CA 

IBM 

UCS 

Kansas City, MO 

CDC 












PRACTICES, PROCEDURES AND PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS 


RDC arranged directly with the vendors covered by this report to utilize their 
services. All runs were performed on 30 cps terminals during the summer and 
early Fall of 1978. The price schedules quoted were in effect as of November 
1978. Where published price lists have been modified since the runs were made, 
but the underlying pricing algorithm remained unchanged, RDC updated the bench¬ 
mark costs appropriately without re-running. 


RDC recognizes that most vendors offer attractive discounts for large users 
and long-term commitments. In addition, many vendors offer discounts for 
running programs at less than interactive services levels or on non-prime 
time schedules. In order to evaluate any discounted or specially-priced 
proposals from vendors, however, RDC believes that a user must start by making 
cost comparisons using the retail or standard rates that timesharing services 
publish. Therefore, all prices used in this report are based upon the stan¬ 
dard prices for interactive computing during prime time as available for be¬ 
ginning or low-usage customers. 


All program runs were performed by RDC personnel experienced in benchmarking 
timesharing vendors. Where more than one valid implementation of the bench¬ 
mark program's function was possible, RDC sought and employed the recommenda¬ 
tions of the vendor's technical assistance staff. In sum, great care was exer¬ 
cised to obtain uniform results for all services. 


Run costs shown are for both compilation and execution (including linking and 
loading, where necessary) - and are not just for execution of pre-compiled 
programs. The run mode resembles program development more than fixed produc¬ 
tion. To illustrate that CPU costs are only one part of the total costs for 
a particular run, arbitrary amounts of connect time and disk storage utiliza¬ 
tion were added to the run. The following charts and graphs reflect the re¬ 
sults of adding the costs of 3 minutes of connect time and 1500 characters of 
disk storage to the actual CPU costs incurred in running the benchmark program. 


The standard BASIC version of the New Product Planning Problem (used in the 
RDC report "Financial Modeling Decisions," published December 1978) was selec¬ 
ted for the purpose of this report. A description of this problem follows: 






New Product Planning Problem 


w 


The market research department of a major company is evaluating the profit¬ 
ability of a new product over the next four (4) years. A model is created 
as follows: 


STARTING POINT 

Units Sold = 50,000 - 

Selling Price = $8.50 
Variable Costs per Unit - 

-Raw Materials 
-Direct Labor 
-Packaging 
-Distribution 

Fixed Costs - 

-Factory 

-Other 

Effective Tax Rate = 22% 


MODEL 1 S ACTION 

Increase 15% Per Year 

Increase $.50 Per Year 

Inflation for next 3 years 
at 7%, 8%, 6% 

$3.00 

$ 2.00 

$0.50 

$0.75 

Constant for 4 years 

$25,000 

$15,000 

Constant % 


A base line run is established, and several parameters are varied in a "what-if" 
mode on subsequent runs. Program output runs two to three pages and is printed 
in a standard report format of report line items across column years. 




- 5 - 







VENDOR COSTS FOR CPU, CONNECT, AND STORAGE 


AS OF NOVEMBER, 1978 


VENDOR 

CPU 

CHARGES 

CONNECT/HR 

AT 

30 CPS 

STORAGE 
(1000 CHAR/ 
MONTH) 

ADP 

$.02/CRU 

$15.00 

$1.00 

BCS-C 

.20/CCU 

8.50 

0.33 

BCS-I 

. 15/CSU 

10.00 

0.18 

CDS-D 

.03/Sec. 

8.00 

0.39 

CDS-H 

.10/SRU 

11.00 

0.38 

CSC 

.33/SRU 

12.50* 

0.41 

CSV 

.023/SRU 

15.00 

0.49 

CYB 

.35/SBU 

15.25* 

0.38 

GE 

.13/CRU 

12.75** 

0.11 

MCA 

.18/MRU 

10.00 

0.19 

NCS 

.20/ARU 

13.00 

0.18 

OLS 

.05/CPU 

10.00 

0.47 

RAP 

.07/CPU 

13.00 

0.60 

SBC 

.18/PU 

15.00 

0.66 

TYM-D 

.13/TRU 

13.00 

0.45 

TYM-I 

.27/TRU 

13.00 

0.14 

UCS 

.15/SU-B 

22.00 

0.24 


*Net charge based upon 25,000 characters/hour 
**Metro Access Option 2 at 25,000 characters/hour 










COMPARATIVE COST TABLE 







NEW PRODUCT PLANNING PROBLEM 
BASIC LANGUAGE 


VENDOR 

CPU COST 

% OF 
HIGH 
VENDOR 

CONNECT 
COSTS 
(3 Min.) 

STORAGE 

COSTS 

(1500 CHAR) 

TOTAL COST 

% OF 

HIGH 

VENDOR 

ADP 

$.88 

55% 

$.75 

$1.50 7 

$3.13 

100% 

BCS-C 

.80 

50 2 

.43 

.50 

1.73 

55 

BCS-I 

.41 

26 

.50 

.27 

1.18 

38 

CDS-D 

.21 

13 

.40 

.59 

1.20 

38 

CDS-H 

.20 

13 

.55 

.57 

1.32 

42 

CSC 

.36 

23 

.63 

.62 

1.61 

51 

CSV 

.56 

35 

.75 

.74 

2.05 

65 

CYB 

.41 

26 

.76 

.57 

1.74 

56 

GE 

.71 

44 

.64 

.17 

1.52 

49 

MCA 

.34 

21 

.50 

.29 

1.13 

36 

NCS 

.72 

45 

.65 

.27 

1.64 

52 

OLS 

1.60 

100 2 

.50 

.71 

2.81 

90 

RAP 

.93 

58 

.65 

.90 

2.48 

79 

SBC 

.36 

23 

.75 

.99 

2.10 

67 

TYM-D 

.89 

56 

.65 

.68 

2.22 

71 

TYM-I 

1 .20 

75 

.65 

.21 

2.06 

66 

UCS 

.18 

11 

1.10 3 

.36 

1 .64 

52 


Selected qualifying notes to illustrate need for broader evaluation: 

^ ADP storage volume discounts yield dramatic reductions. 

L The costs for these vendors on this program are not consistent with 
^ RDC's general cost profiles. 

5 UCS price change 1/1/79 will reduce connect charges. 


- 7 - 























CPU COSTS 


NEW PRODUCT PLANNING PROBLEM 


VeAczntagu o{) Highest Vmdosi 



- 8 - 










TOTAL COSTS 


NEW PRODUCT PLANNING PROBLEM 


V&icmtagz Highest 1 /andoft 



- 9 - 











CONCLUSIONS 


The preceding graphs illustrate quite dramatically the differences in costs 
associated with running only one program on seventeen different RCS vendors. 
These kinds of differences justify careful evaluation of all pricing elements 
when choosing a particular vendor*s service. Note how the cost relationships 
of these vendors change when factors such as connect and storage costs are 
added to total CPU costs. Vendors who appear high based solely on CPU costs 
can dramatically shift on the total cost graph, and vice versa. 


In addition, this problem is only one of a series of benchmark type programs 
which a user must run in order to gain an accurate cost profile of any par¬ 
ticular vendor*s service. RDC itself runs many benchmark programs designed 
to test various combinations of CPU time and memory, I/O file uses, and com¬ 
putational speeds. Furthermore, BASIC is only one of the languages used in 
timesharing and, in fact, vendors often display entirely different cost re¬ 
sults for programs coded in FORTRAN versus BASIC. 


Users are encouraged to devise additional benchmark programs which will not 
only provide more complete vendor cost profiles, but also display ease of use 
characteristics relative to the various Command and Editor facilities. RDC 
strongly recommends that users perform extensive benchmarking tests which re¬ 
flect their particular requirements for Remote Computer Services. 


ATSU readers are urged to use the results presented in this special report 
with caution. The main purpose of this report is to stimulate users to per¬ 
form extensive benchmarks prior to selecting vendors for their use because 
the fact is that costs do vary widely from vendor to vendor. 


The value of a service is determined by a combination of factors in the de¬ 
cision process, weighted by the specific user needs. It is important: 

• To understand the PROFILE of a vendor - his business foundation, 
emphasis and practices; 

• To examine the FACILITIES - that specific set of hardware, software 
and network utilized; 

• To evaluate the available SUPPORT - types of personnel, applications 
and educational help; 

• And, with this background, PERFORMANCE can be judged - based on 
user references, economy of operation and overall service 
capabilities. 







In sum, the evaluation of factors described within the specific decision 
process will result in the following equation: 

PROFILE + FACILITIES + SUPPORT + PERFORMANCE = CHOICE 


The processes described above represent some of the analyses users should 
perform when deciding among potential vendors of Remote Computer Services. 
Note that one specific aspect of PERFORMANCE deals with economy, and one 
factor under economy concerns benchmarks - a procedure widely used to test 
efficiency, measure response time and evaluate costs of various services. 

It is this specific economic factor - benchmarks - which this report ad¬ 
dresses. Results from such benchmark efforts can contribute to the overall 
task of evaluating competing services, but the proper use of benchmarks is 
essential. They are certainly not the whole story, and total results must 
still determine each user's choice. 



EDITORIAL 

I’m constantly amazed at the incredible difference in 
prices between remote computing suppliers. As the 
chart on page 7 shows, a short test program that 
costs $1.13 on one service costs $3.13 on another. 
But what about the results of other test programs, or 
better yet, larger “real life” programs? The amazing 
fact is that the results change dramatically as 
different types of programs are run on each sup¬ 
plier’s system. Referring to RDC’s 124 page report 
entitled “The 1978-1979 Comparative Time-Sharing 
Cost Analysis Report,” (available for $695 from 
RDC) we find that ADP Network Services and On- 
Line Systems — both of whom had deceptively high 
prices on page 7 — each had very low prices for 
other types of programs. This seems to be telling us 
two things: First of all, that we should not jump to 
conclusions about any particular supplier based 
upon one example of someone else’s benchmark 
program, and secondly, that what really counts is 
how the suppliers compare with one another using 
your own applications programs. Clearly, this study 
all by itself cannot be the sole factor considered in 
making an intelligent purchase decision. But it again 
demonstrates the incredible differences between 
remote computing systems and services — differ¬ 
ences which are important for us as users to 
\ _, understand and appreciate. HS 


ATSU’S CORPORATE ASSOCIATE MEMBERS 

ADP Network Services 
American Terminal Leasing 
Avco Computer Services 
Boeing Computer Services Company 
CallData Systems 

Citibank - Interactive Computing Center 
Corporate Time-Sharing Services, inc. 

Datanetwork, Honeywell, Inc. 

Data Resources, Inc. 

General Electric Company, Information Services 
Informatics - Data Services Div. 

Insco Systems Corporation 
Interactive Market Systems, Inc. 

I. P. Sharp Associates, Ltd. 

Litton Computer Services 
Metrocom Inc. 

Minicomputer Modeling, Inc. 

National Computer Network 
On-Line Systems, Inc. 

Quantum Science Corporation 
Rapidata, Inc. 

Scientific Time-Sharing Corporation 

SDC Search Service 

Sun Information Services 

Telenet Communications Corporation 

Tentime Company 

Time-Sharing Resources, Inc. 

Trendata 

United Computing Systems 

University Computing Company 

Vocal Interface 

Warner Computer Systems 

Western Union - Data Services Company 

Zeta Research 


- 11 - 






ATSU and ASCII Chapters, Local Contacts and Special Interest Contacts 


ALABAMA 

Ray F. Heyd 

Birmingham — ATSU Local Contact 
Vulcan Materials Company 
(205) 877-3000 

ARKANSAS 

Gene Dugger 

Searcy — ASCU Local Contact 
Harding College 

(501) 268-6161 

CALIFORNIA 

Richard Dumas 

Mountain View — ATSU Local Contact 
Commodity Research Institute 
(415) 941-4646 

Gary Galan 

Newport Beach — ATSU Local Contact 
Commercial Bankers Life Insurance 
(714) 833-8450 

Frederick Gallegos 
Los Angeles — ATSU Local Contact 
U.S. Gen’l Accounting Office 
(213) 688-3809 

Don Hatch 

San Diego — ASCU Local Contact 
Christian Mgmt. Consulting Services 
(714) 293-3200 

Frank Slaton 

San Bernardino — ATSU Local Contact 
California State College 
(714) 887-7293 

CONNECTICUT 

Frank Chew 

Greenwich — ATSU Local Contact 
Amax, Inc. 

(203) 622-2824 

Charles J. Clock, Jr. 

Special Interest Contact for 
Educational Applications 
West Hartford Public Schools 
(203) 236-6081 

FLORIDA 

William A. Rousseau 

Pompano Beach — ATSU Local Contact 

Alpine Engineered Products, Inc. 

(305) 781-3333 

J. L. VanGoethem 

Miami — ASCU Local Contact 

Ryder System, Inc. 

(305) 593-3726 

IDAHO 

Rick Simon 

Boise — ATSU Local Contact 
Morrison-Knudsen Company 
(208) 345-5000 

ILLINOIS 

♦ Leon Stevens 

Chicago - ATSU Chapter President 
Standard Oil Company 
(312) 856-6689 

John A. Koziol 

Chicago — ATSU & ASCU Local Contact 
Continental Materials Corp. 

(312) 565-0100 

KENTUCKY 

Clyde Jenkins 

Special Interest Contact for APL 
Humana Inc. 

(502) 589-3790 

LOUISIANA 

W. D. Landry 

Abbeville — ASCU Local Contact 
Coastal Chemical Co., Inc. 

(504) 893-3862 

MARYLAND 

R. G. Korbeck 

Baltimore — ATSU Local Contact 
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company 
(301) 234-6687 


METRO WASHINGTON, DC. 

Frank E. Rockwell 

Glen Dale — ATSU Local Contact 

Astro Data Systems 

(301) 982-5996 

A. Steven Wolf 
DC — ATSU Local Contact 
U.S. General Accounting Office 
(202) 655-4000 

MICHIGAN 

J. Ben Friberg 

Grand Rapids — ATSU Local Contact 
Rapidstan Inc. 

(616) 451-6682 

Tom Hunt 

Cadillac — ATSU Local Contact 
Kysor Industrial Corp. 

(616) 775-4646 

♦ Larry Leslie 

Special Interest Contact for 
Time-Sharing Administrators 
Upjohn Company 

(616) 323-4000 

MASSACHUSETTS 

♦ Stuart Lipoff 

Boston — ATSU Local Contact and 
Special Interest Contact for 
Software Standards 
Arthur D. Little, Inc. 

(617) 864-5770 

MINNESOTA 

L. R. Bakewell 

St. Paul — ASCU Local Contact 
Real Estate Dynamics, Inc. 

(612) 698-8891 

MISSOURI 

Dann E. Kroeger 

Kansas City — ASCU Local Contact 
Townsend Communications, Inc. 

(816) 454-9660 

NEBRASKA 

Doug Goldsmith 
Omaha — ATSU Local Contact 
Omaha Public Power District 
(402) 536-4015 

NEW JERSEY 

Jim Fitzpatrick 
Special Interest Contact for 
Data Base Applications 
American Broadcasting Corp. 

(201) 488-2345 

Robert J. Loring 

Haddonfield — ASCU Local Contact 
Cardiac Long-Term Monitoring SVC 
(609) 795-2220 

♦ Bennett Meyer 

Special Interest Contact for 
Data Security 
Singer-Kearfott 
(201) 256-4000 

Robert Pickford 

Northern N.J. — ATSU Local Contact 

Warner-Lambert 

(201) 540-2999 

NEW YORK 

Dr. Dina Bedi 

Special Interest Contact for 
Educational Applications 
Baruch College 
(212) 725-3196 

Terri Gendron 

Briarcliff Manor — ATSU Local Contact 
Phillips Laboratories 
(914) 762-0300 

Samuel Leonard 

Elmira — ATSU Local Contact 

Thatcher Glass Mfg. Co. 

(607) 737-3459 


Stephen Mandell ONTARIO 

New York City - ASCU Local Contact * David Wilson 

Citibank N A Toronto — ATSU Local Contact 

(212) 559-6242 P S - Ross & Partners 

(416) 363-8281 


Philip N. Sussman 

New York City — ATSU Local Contact 
International Paper Company 
(212) 490-5827 

NEW YORK CITY CHAPTER 
Executive Board: 

Aram Bedrosian 
TWA 

Bion Bierer 
Bristol Myers 
Victor Bittman 

Chase Manhattan 
Charles Browning 
Phelps Dodge 
Dennis Callahan 

Goldman Sachs & Co. 

Chester Frankfeldt 
Continental Group 
Carl Heimowitz 

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 
Alan Kornbluth 

American Express 
Susan McCain 

Morgan Guaranty 
Indira Singh 

Salomon Brothers 
Philip Sussman 

International Paper Co. 

OHIO 

Dennis Bender 

Cincinnati — ATSU Local Contact 
Procter & Gamble 
(513) 562-2469 

Ed Casper 

Cleveland — ATSU Chapter President 
Diamond Shamrock Corp. 

(216) 694-3366 

♦ Howard Tureff 

Cleveland — ATSU Local Contact 
Diamond Shamrock Corp. 

(216) 694-5963 


OREGON 

Roland S. Hanson 
Portland — ATSU Local Contact 
Oregon Assoc, of Hospitals 

(503) 228-5608 

PENNSYLVANIA 

* Dale Hummer 

Pittsburgh — ATSU Local Contact 
Westinghouse Electric Corp. 

(412) 256-4889 

Steven D. Rellis 

North Wales — ATSU Local Contact 
Leeds & Northrup Corp. 

(215) 643-2000 

D. T. Wu 

Philadelphia — ATSU Local Contact 
DuPont De Nemours & Co. 

(215) 339-6307 

TEXAS 

Ralph N. Bussard 

Houston — ATSU & ASCU Local Contact 
Price Waterhouse & Company 
(713) 654-4100 

WISCONSIN 

Anil K. Bhala 

Green Bay — ASCU Local Contact 
L. D. Schreiber Cheese Co. 

(414) 437-7601 

David J. Ritter 

LaCrosse — ASCU Local Contact 
LaCrosse Garment Mfg. Co. 

(608) 785-1400 

John J. Stewart 

Wausau — ASCU Local Contact 
Van Ert Electric Co., Inc. 

(715) 845-4308 

Paul Thoppil 

Milwaukee — ATSU Local Contact 
RTE Corporation 
(414) 547-1251 


Become an ATSU or ASCU Local Contactforyourarea. Your name 
and telephone number will be listed on this page in each issue of 
Interactive Computing, enabling other members to contact you 
with their questions. Only users, not suppliers, areeligibleto apply 
by writing to the Association. 


ATSU and ASCU Council Members. 



Published jointly by the Association of Time-Sharing Users and 
the Association of Small Computer Users. ©Copyright 1979, P.O. 
Box 9003, Boulder, Colorado 80301. Telephone (303) 499-1722. 


Leon Stevens *■ 

Vice President 


Hillel Segal * 

President, 
Publications Editor 


Martin Neville 

Secretary 


Earl Carroll 

Treasurer 


ATSU is an independent non-profit association providing a forum 
for the discussion of remote computing topics. ASCU, organized 
as a sister association to ATSU, is also independent and non¬ 
profit and is devoted to serving the informational needs of small 
computer users.