‘1.21 gigawatts! 1.21 gigawatts. Great Scott!’

Exclaimed a young Doctor Emmet Brown to Marty McFly. That was the electrical power needed via lightning strike to zap the 88-miles-an-hour Delorean Back to the Future. Before you all hang up on me this isn’t another blog about movies or my own personal movie heroes. It’s just that time-travel and time machines can be a convenient way of explaining the Micro Focus technology that bridges the old with the new. Powerful, award winning software products that future proof technological investments from the past for years into the future……

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COBOL in 2015 –  56 years young

That’s only 12 or so years older than me! It’s the programming language still running many of the world’s business applications and making our lives more convenient. Having spent the lion’s share of my professional life working in a Big Blue Development Lab outside Winchester I am certainly no stranger to COBOL. But the COBOL & Mainframe Developers?

We all know that the original COBOL and Mainframe technology predates pretty much all modern tech, but it’s a bit too easy to assume that it’s all stuck in the past. IBM just invested a cool $1bn in the new z13 mainframe for a reason and a glance at the post-modernist and highly efficient IDE available to today’s COBOL developers will dispel any thoughts that this stuff is antiquated.  Today’s enterprise developer today has an incredibly powerful set of COBOL development tools that support the earthquake-proof light-speed modern mainframe environment.  Today’s mainframe or COBOL coder is now an average 26 years young according to our customer base. They have categorically cast away the sandals, white socks and beard and are chomping at the bit to embrace the digital age with the support of Micro Focus’ skills program and academic initiative.

Today’s enterprise developer is 30 years younger on average than COBOL!

I am talking about the type of heavyweight coders who’ve made it possible for Trasmediterranea Acciona to reuse core mainframe COBOL apps and re-host some of them to the Cloud to knock out expense and pump up service levels. Just like the team at Eurorealm who improved their own productivity by a third and sped themselves up with our Visual COBOL product in the process. The Steria team who’ve mashed up their mainframe application development with modern IDEs providing better service levels more efficiently. Serious developers who make a serious difference to their employer’s bottom line.

Today’s Information Technology typically functions so well on the high performing foundation from yesteryear that the smarter companies that underpin the world’s stock markets are using it to build out the ‘new’ digital economy upon. The 3 examples I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg – there are hundreds of case studies demonstrating the amazing difference these technologists make with our software right here and I have a chance to meet some of them because;

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Micro Focus #DevDay in Washington DC is coming

Are you going? I am and I’m massively excited about finally getting to experience one for myself. Over the past two years, more than 700 COBOL and mainframe developers from across the globe have come together at our Developer Days to see the latest innovations, connect with like-minded peers and forge a stronger COBOL community. Some highlights of #DevDay that I don’t want to personally miss include the live demos, guest speakers and the chance to listen to questions from the floor to our product experts. I’ll tweet some of these queries along with the answers as the day progresses – watch this space!

I am sure I won’t totally escape the lifting, shifting and admin that comes with being involved in a corporate event, I’ve been reliably informed that I’ll be giving away a few special prizes. I have a feeling that all the heavy lifting will be worth its weight in gold for me professionally. I need to see for myself how our (industry recognised) #COBOLRocks hashtag sets the social Media wires on fire each and every time we run one of these days! During an average #DevDay it’s like hearing teenagers discuss 30 years of COBOL development on Twitter with a buzz that’s frankly amazing. I’m guessing that the content must be pretty special to generate that kind of noise!  I’d like to write more blogs and get the attendees and their IT projects the sort of recognition they deserve. For me it will be like meeting Developer Dave in the flesh which also makes me slightly nervous. I want to be able to talk about all the technological stuff that floats my boat  and I’d like to hear what today’s enterprise developer thinks of the Micro Focus COBOL and Mainframe products too. We’ll also be aiming to get some more footage for our increasingly fabulous YouTube channel.

So how do I ensure this part of the day is a success?

‘Success is where preparation and opportunity meet’

That’s according to Indy 500 legend Bobby Unser. Opportunity’s knocked again for me so I need perfect preparation. Sadly I am no longer 26 so I’ve decided to break the ice by paying homage to the COBOL and Mainframe community of yore. In a personal tribute the 1990’s are coming back to the future, here’s what I’ve managed so far:

1)    1st impressions count so I need to look the part. I know from hanging out with Frank Borland in Newbury that no techie is complete without some serious facial hair so I’ve actually grown a beard. Admittedly not a very good one yet  but it has a few days to go. I’ve also packed my Led Zep United States of America 1977 T-shirt  along with my white socks with sandals printed on (as I still can’t justify the expense of a real pair of Birkenstock sandals). That’s my evening wear sorted right?

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2)     I’ve been extremely proactive helping my 8 year old son with his math homework. Like me once upon a time COBOL is highly mathematical. I’ve neglected my math sadly so it’s time to get a refresher – quickly.

3)     I’ve been researching on the Micro Focus Academic site and our COBOL community site. I am not brave enough to post yet – perhaps I’ll find the courage during ‘#DevDay itself.

I’d love to hear anything I’ve missed from my checklist on Twitter before I get there. Will I see you there? If not I’ll hopefully see you all online if you follow @MicroFocus and @Mainframe50 for live updates throughout the day. If the conversation turns too techie too quickly I can always ask for COBOL song suggestions……right?

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