History of GT.M

The History of GT.M™

GT.M is the robust, high-performance, multi-paradigm database engine used by FIS for its FIS Profile® banking application server. Optimized for transaction processing, GT.M is also an application development platform and a compiler for the ANSI/ISO standard M language (also known as MUMPS®). The technology is widely used in several industries around the world, most notably financial services and healthcare.

The technology is a vetted, industrial strength platform for building high-throughput database applications for both host-based and client/server architectures. GT.M has several benefits as a database platform, which transaction-processing applications will find advantageous. They include:

  • GT.M's database is typically 20 to 50 percent the size of equivalent databases on industry-standard SQL engines.
  • GT.M's database supports full ACID (Atomic, Consistent, Isolated, Durable) transactions.
  • It is substantially faster for transaction processing than traditional relational databases.
  • With a multi-dimensional key-value (also known as “NoSQL”, “schema-free”, “schema less”) model, GT.M's database engine imposes no schema restrictions.
  • With support for Unicode (ISO/IEC-10646), GT.M is well suited to creating applications that require international character sets.
  • SQL/ODBC/JDB access to GT.M databases is available from multiple sources.

MUMPS' origins date back to 1966, when MUMPS (an acronym for Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System) was developed by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Standardized as "M," (ISO/IEC 11756:1999) the system was designed as an integrated programming language, programming environment, file system, operating system, and database. Its performance and flexibility permitted researchers to write complex database applications that could run on inexpensive minicomputers, instead of requiring expensive mainframes. Since the early 1970s, MUMPS has been a defacto standard in healthcare informatics.

M programmers relish M because the database is highly accessible with a familiar paradigm, built in string processing, and dynamic data typing along with familiar programming constructs such as "If Statements," "For loops," etc. Furthermore, with add-on tools from FIS and third parties, it is possible to map a GT.M database onto a relational data dictionary, and provide access via standards such as SQL and ODBC/JDBC. Tools for object encapsulation and object oriented programming are also available.

In the 1980s an even more powerful technology alternative to prevailing M implementations evolved, called GT.M. This technology was developed by Greystone Technology Corp. Unlike traditional M systems that integrate the database and language subsystems in a closed architecture, GT.M was designed to have an open architecture, like a programming language such as C. Thus, M programs reside in normal ASCII files in the operating system (with a .m extension), and are compiled by a compiler into object files (with a .o extension) that are also normal files. However, GT.M was designed not to sacrifice the dynamic nature or performance of the M environment. To this day, transaction processing throughput occupies prime mind share of every engineer who works on GT.M, second only to robustness.

Since GT.M's first deployment in 1986 on a VAX/VMS system in a major medical hospital, it has made notable inroads in the medical and financial industries. GT.M is licensed for use at over 1,000 institutions worldwide, ranging from small, community healthcare facilities and large teaching hospitals to some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Our clients entrust their mission critical applications to GT.M on a wide variety of industry standard computing platforms.

In 1998, Sanchez purchased Greystone Technology Corp. and created the "GT.M Group," retaining its human capital and technical expertise. In turn Sanchez was a predecessor company to FIS. FIS continues to invest in GT.M to respond to the market demands for this product as well as to meet FIS Profile needs.

Many innovations that are now commonplace in software technology, such as just-in-time compilation and dynamic linking have always been an integral part of GT.M. Others such as ACID (Atomic, Consistent, Isolated, Durable) transactions were incorporated into GT.M long before the competition. Today, the GT.M Group continues to innovate, pushing the technology envelope with unique functionality such as logical dual site operation, which allows an application like FIS Profile to offer 24x7, continuous availability, even if a data center is lost, or during an application upgrade that involves a database schema change.

The source code for GT.M on x86 GNU/Linux is available to the world under a free / open source software (FOSS) license. Although that software is free for anyone to use, FIS offers support contracts for users who want to use GT.M for commercial applications and want to purchase support on commercial terms with assured service levels. On this, as well as on all other supported platforms, GT.M is available as a traditionally licensed software product, with the same high quality FIS support.

MUMPS® is a registered trademark of Massachusetts General Hospital Corporation.

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