Type of OS or Servers used to store billing statements?

jslayton01 used Ask the Experts™
I would like to ask an expert on what type of servers do they keep all of the billing statements when using a credit card transaction? Also, what type of OS do they use to handle this? I am very interested on how this works. Do they use CICS, DB2, or what type of application or OS do they use for storing credit card billing statements? Does it depend on the type pf bank's IT department? And also, I would feel sorry for the person who is doing backups on these servers with that kind of information.

And with that, how would such a backup process done on such sensitive data on these servers? Is it a incremental, weekly, daily, or yearly backup? I am assuming that they use some type of robotic tape backups. I used to work for the city, and we spent billions of dollars for our IBM robotic tape system with each tape or diskette being 60GB in size of data on it....

Thank you
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pegasysIT, System Admin, Development and Stack Development


It doesnt really matter what OS you store your information on, its about how stable you keep it.

1) Ensure that you keep the most up-to-date and 'APPROVED' patches and updates installed
2) Ensure that you have it constantly virus checked
3) Ensure that you have a good DBA to help with database design and main
3) makesure that backups happen regularly (see below)
4) ensure that the server is properly firewalled (NOT by a software firewall on the same machine) but by a primary gateway form of device like a Cisco 501 (for example)


I would personally reccoment a weekly FULL backup with 6 or 12 hour differentials with a retention period of about 30 days. To ensure data integrity, check your media every 14 days for quality.

As to what device you should use for backup, this depends on the amount of data that is pouring through the system. I work at a MASSIVE server hosting company and we need the use of the 'robotic arm backup device' as to put it. Reson being, we back up several terabytes a day from over 12,000 server. Unless you are backing that much up, use something a little more on the standard side, i.e. single high speed tapedrive (4GB) should be enough for LOAD of plain text details with compression on.




Do you know what type of Servers they use to store billing or credit card information for each and every one of us? DO they use Linux or UNIX?

My teacher always told me never to backup the entire OS. ONLY the data. Not even the program that runs the data...just the data and thats it.

Top Expert 2014

When did you spend billions of dollars for a tape system from IBM?  For billions of dollars I can get a a couple of mainframes, a tape system, and a still have 10's of millions left over.

If it was billions of dollars, then most likely it was a few tape systems setup to store hunders petabytes of data on tape.

For "distributed" systems at one time  you did not want to back the OS normally.  At least not for Windows. Bare metal restores used to be next to impossible.  Expesically for DR services as to do a bare metal restore required the same exact hardware on the DR machine as the original machine had.  I am not sure about Unix based systems.

For mainframe, the OS is backed up, normally weekly, and bare metal restores are quite easy.  The hardware configuration is sepereate from the software configuration and you specify things like devices address yourself. So you can make two different mainframes look the same.

Different companies use different OS's and DBMS to store credit card information.  It depends on how big they are.

What do the credit card companies themself use?  Last I knew most of the biggies (Visa, MC, AmEx., Dinners Club) were using IBM mainframes and CICS & DB2, IMS, and maybe TPF (either as a standalone OS or as a subsystem under z/OS).
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It was like a Tape Silo for our tape system.


BTW, what does CICS look like? Is it like MS Access type database? Are they like rows and columns. or tables like Access?

If possible, can happen to send me some screenshots of CICS?

Im sure you have worked with Access at some point. I just want to compare it with DB2 and CICS.
Top Expert 2014
CICS is not a database it is a transaction/application server that can use DB2 as a DBMS.

In todays world you can think of CICS as a WebSphere Application Server, WebLogic, or JBOSS type of product.  The difference is that CICS supports more that just Java based application.  CICS supports Cobol, Assember, C/C++, PL/I, and Java.  It may support other languages also, but those are the one's I know of.

In CICS you run programs and these programs can then access databases in DB2, IDMS-DB, Oracle, or VSAM (a file format, not a DBMS).  I can send you any screen shots.  Like with any application server, the screens are unique by application.  It's sort of asking for screen shots from IIS so you can see what it looks like.

It must have been one HUGE tape silo to cost billions.  I see millions or even 10's of millions, but not billions.  The tapes with 60GB, IIRC, is the physical datastore, with 2:1 or 3:1 compression you can get 120-180 GB of data on them.

We do daily backups of ALL production data and ship offsite that day for storage. We do weekly backups of the OS.  The daily and weekly tapes are kept offsite for 14 days and then brought back on site.

Access is a baby DBMS with a easy to use report writer and can't really be compared to DB2 or CICS.  From MS I am not sure if three is any product that you can compare to CICS.  MS SQL server can be compared to DB2, but you really can't compare it to DB2 that runs on z/OS.

If it cost that much it must have been an EMC solution. Fibre channel to 20 GB tapes...sure we had a few thousand of them in the powerhorn silo...but we were backing up a few hundred Windows servers, and that can chew through tape in a jiffy.

As to "only back up the data", well I hope you like rebuilding servers. I can not count the number of servers that could have been fixed if the system state backup had been taken. Really, it's up to you what you consider important enough to backup. think of it as a math problem comparing a) time to rebuild and restore data, b) time to restore full serevr image, and c) time to troubleshoot the problem if possible.


Yep,,,we ship the tapes offsite too and theres a 10 or 20 year waiting period until those old tapes are destroyed... If you can send me sreenshots than I would appreciate it.


Top Expert 2014

I must have missed your last comment about the screen shots.  Thanks for the points.

All of the screen shots I could send you have proprietary information and so I can’t send it out, but CICS can do anything.  That is you as an application developer decide what the output looks like.  You can develop an application that can be a:

Line mode TTY type devices
Simulated full screen VT100/ANSI type device
      Full screen 3270
      Program to program (SOAP, custom API, APPC/LU62)
      Web Page      

I don’t know where you are from, but have you ever been in Washington DC?  Did you ride the Metro?  If so the fare card machines are the “output terminal” for CICS applications.

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