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FTAM (File Transfer Access and Management)

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FTAM is an OSI standard that provides file transfer services between client (initiator) and server (responder) systems in an open environment. It also provides access to files and management of files on diverse systems. In these respects, it strives to be a universal file system. FTAM has worked well as a way to bring mainframe information systems into distributed environments, but FTAM has not caught on otherwise.

FTAM is designed to help users access files on diverse systems that use compatible FTAM implementations. It is similar to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and NFS (Network File System), both of which operate in the TCP/IP environment. Users can manipulate files down to the record level, which is how FTAM stores files. In this respect, FTAM has some relational database features. For example, users can lock files or lock individual records.

FTAM is a system in which connection-oriented information about the user and the session is maintained by a server until the session is taken down. In a stateless system, such as NFS, requests are made independently of one another in a connectionless manner. There are advantages to stateless operation. If the server crashes, the request simply goes away and the client makes another request. This simplifies recovery after the crash. In a stateful system, both systems must be aware that one or the other has crashed so they can restore the states and prevent data corruption.

Files are transferred between systems by first establishing a connection-oriented session. The FTAM client contacts the FTAM server and requests a session. Once the session is established, file transfer can take place. FTAM uses the concept of a virtual filestore, which provides a common view of files. The FTAM file system hides the differences between different vendor systems. FTAM specifies document types as files with straight binary information or text files in which each line is terminated with a carriage return. Data is interpreted as records and FTAM provides the virtual filestore capabilities that store record-oriented structured files.

So far, FTAM, like other OSI protocols, has not caught on as a useful system for transferring files between different vendor systems in the LAN environment. Many of the implementations so far have failed to interoperate with one another. FTAM has worked well as a way to bring mainframe information systems into distributed environments.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.