Latest updates to Micro Focus COBOL Development and Mainframe Solutions now available

Building a stronger sense of community–It’s a topic often discussed across many industries and technical professions and coincidentally, also a favorite topic at Micro Focus #DevDay events. Amie Johnson, Solutions Marketing strategist at Micro Focus digs deeper into this topic and uncovers some core reasons why community matters while also sharing some exciting product news for COBOL and Mainframe enthusiasts.

If you haven’t attended a Micro Focus #DevDay event in the past few months, let me recap that typical attendee experience for you.  It’s a day jam-packed will technology demonstrations, interactive Q&A sessions, hands on labs and much more.  Its eight hours of technology focused discussions designed for the COBOL and Mainframe developer. If you look closely though, you’ll also see something else, beyond the tech – community development.  I’m always pleased to see attending delegates in engaging conversation with other peers often sharing their ‘COBOL’ stories.  This sense of community both educates, and builds best practices while establishing long term relationships for all involved.  It also removes any perceived isolation that could occur if such conversations did not occur.  You’ll also see many of these experienced professionals talk shop, exchange stories from the past and seek answers to needed problems and questions. In many ways, #DevDay is the place where enterprise developers belong and where everyone knows your name.


This week’s events in Dallas didn’t disappoint with a strong focus on COBOL application modernization, and performance, along with a desire to ‘sell that strategy’ upwards in the organization.  With thousands upon thousands of COBOL applications supporting everyday activities including banking, insurance, air travel, equities trading, government services and more; it’s no surprise that (for many attending) COBOL remains a solid choice for core business. Most acknowledge though that there are external pressures, though, to consider new solutions, perhaps even re-write or re-place those applications with new technologies. Underlying complexity and cost, however, often sideline those projects in favor of less risky approaches to modernization.  After all, these (COBOL) applications are essential to business success and the tolerance for business is often very low.  But there’s pressure to modernize with an eye to embracing new models, new tech and the future.

Micro Focus Continued Investment in COBOL and Mainframe Technologies

The goal of course, through event discussions is to ensure that all guest leave the event feeling it was valuable and delivered some practical skills which they could use when back at the office.  Yes, many attending are interested in the Micro Focus investment strategy for COBOL and Mainframe tech.  We cover that with ample detail and discussion ensuring all understand that COBOL is just as modern as the thousands of new programming languages available today—and they see it too through many demo examples.

This future proof strategy for COBOL ensures that applications, many of which support global enterprise, continue to function and support the business. Supporting this strategy are the following key data-points discussed while in Dallas:

  • 85% of surveyed customers believe their COBOL applications are strategic to the business
  • 2/3 of the survey respondents that maintain these COBOL applications are seeking new ways to improve efficiency and the software delivery process  while modernizing their applications to work with next gen technology including relational database management systems, Web services, APIs and integrate with Java and .Net code environments

These drivers underpin the continued Micro Focus commitment to support the widest variety of enterprise platforms.  Today, over 50+ application platforms are supported providing maximum choice, freedom and flexibility for anyone using COBOL. This capability coupled with a continued annual R&D investment of $60M reaffirms that COBOL is ready for innovation whether it be .NET, Java, mobile, cloud, or the Internet of Things. And this week brings even more exciting news as we released the latest updates to our COBOL Development and Mainframe technologies.

Mainframe Development Solution Updates

Versions 2.3.2 of Enterprise Developer, Enterprise Test Server, Enterprise Server, and Enterprise Server for .NET are now available.  The Micro Focus Enterprise product suite helps organizations build, test, and deploy business critical mainframe workloads with an eye toward future innovation and market change.

Highlights in this latest update include:

  • Latest platform support – including Linux on IBM Power Systems and Windows 10 – future-proofs applications.
  • Ability to extract COBOL and PL/I business rules to copybooks makes code re-use easier so developers can work smarter and faster.
  • Enhanced CICS Web Services support helps customers more easily meet the demand for web and mobile application interoperability.
  • Improved mainframe compatibility simplifies re-hosting and extends modernization options for customers deploying to .NET and Azure.

Examples of customers using these solutions include, B+S Banksysteme, City of Fort Worth, and City of Inglewood.


COBOL Development Solution Updates

In COBOL development, the latest version of Visual COBOL 2.3 Update 2 includes the latest updates that helps you organize and manage core IT systems developed in COBOL, providing a pathway to new IT architecture and access to modern tools for enterprise application development.  This release includes over 100 customer requested enhancements and support for the latest enterprise platform updates and 3rd party software.

Highlights in this latest update include:

  • New support for the JBoss EAP platform
  • Updates for the latest releases of supported operating systems
  • Over 100 customer requested fixes and enhancements

Examples of customers using these solutions include Dexia Crediop, Heinsohn Business Technology, and The County of San Luis Obispo..

For Micro Focus customers on maintenance the latest updates can be downloaded via the Supportline portal

So check out these latest COBOL and Mainframe solutions.  Read how these customers are embracing next gen technology alongside their existing core business systems.  And for those interested in joining the COBOL community at the next Micro Focus #DevDay, check out our events calendar here.  Save your seat and join the conversation.


Introducing Micro Focus Enterprise Sync: Delivering Faster Change

Delivering Mainframe DevOps involves managing a lot more change a lot more often. This might need improving processes, but also demands more of technology. Amie Johnson unveils how Micro Focus is supporting collaborative change.


At Micro Focus, we believe mainframe organizations can achieve DevOps levels of efficiency by just taking advantage of modern, efficient tools, agile development practices and fostering better team collaboration. It’s simply a matter of incrementally removing application delivery bottlenecks.

As such, Micro Focus just introduced a new product within our Enterprise Solution set aimed at helping mainframe developers deliver new releases, faster.

Enterprise Sync tackles head on one of the major delivery bottlenecks our customers encounter: coordinating and orchestrating rapid code change – needed in a DevOps model – using conventional mainframe configuration management tools.

The product supports rapid, contemporary parallel development to provide a means to adopt a more agile delivery method across mainframe development teams.

Why can’t we deliver multiple streams?

DevOps promises to eradicate delays in IT delivery. So, in the mainframe world, what’s the bottleneck?

One of the issues is all about how deliveries are managed. As robust as they are, trusted old mainframe configuration management tools weren’t designed to support parallel development, so multi-stream code merges are difficult, manual and prone to error. But, these mainframe configuration management tools hold unique configuration detail and metadata which are essential to supporting critical mainframe applications. So, while replacing such tools completely is out of the question, customers are looking for ways to support a more agile delivery model.

Removing Barriers

The Micro Focus solution, Enterprise Sync, helps solve the bottleneck associated with a desire to introduce parallel development activities. It does this by replicating mainframe source code to a distributed software configuration management platform. Code changes made via parallel development on the distributed platform are automatically synchronized with the mainframe SCM environment, such as CA Endevor. The integration and synchronization effectively introduces a new paradigm of speed and accuracy in delivering parallel development streams for mainframe delivery. This seamless integration with established software change management tools uniquely addresses the need to deliver faster change while preserving the organization’s valuable investment in mainframe processes and their software change and configuration management environment.


As part of the wider Micro Focus Enterprise product set, Enterprise Sync works collaboratively with our flagship mainframe application development tool, Enterprise Developer, to deliver:

  • Easier parallel development at scale across releases or teams
  • Greater efficiency through management and visualization of code change using modern tools
  • Alignment with current mainframe development process and source code
  • Improved developer productivity through continuous integration of key updates



Find out more

Establishing a modern mainframe delivery environment may be central to your DevOps strategy. Learn more about how Micro Focus can help with a complementary Value Profile Service. See what’s possible and hear more about how Micro Focus has helped transform mainframe application delivery.

Achieve DevOps levels of efficiency, flexibility and collaboration. Learn more about the new Enterprise Sync release on the website, or download the product datasheet.


Mainframe Modernization Keeps On Moving: 2.3.1 is here

Micro Focus’ commitment to customer success is enshrined in its regular drops of exciting new technology. Amie Johnson takes us through the latest mainframe product set updates, out this week.


Micro Focus’ commitment to improving z Systems application delivery bore more fruit this week in the form of a new update to its Enterprise Product Set. For customers with strategic mainframe applications, the Enterprise Solution set helps you manage complex business workloads with an eye toward future innovation and market change.


You Asked For It

This latest iteration of the Micro Focus mainframe delivery technology, version 2.3.1, comprises a number of new capabilities. By listening during the many dozens of mainframe modernization engagements we’re involved in at any given time, we continue to focus on the things that matter the most to our market.

Common themes emerging from the mainframe modernization projects we’ve worked on can be summarized in two simple phrases:

  •  Our client’s core mainframe applications don’t just support the business, they ARE the business. We have customers successfully running and modernizing COBOL and PL/I applications because they are the secret ingredients that make them better than the competition.
  • When it comes to addressing the changes that must be made to remain relevant and successful in today’s fierce global market, the risks associated with modernization, and the cost and time to change, must be as low as possible, but with great results.


What’s In The Box

Let’s explore a few of the newly available capabilities in this iteration of our Enterprise Analyzer, Enterprise Developer, Enterprise Test Server and Enterprise Server products.

Extra Mobility:

As we help our customers continue to deliver incremental value through IT, making our products easy to use is vital. This is why one of the key features of this update makes web-enabling CICS applications much easier. CICS Web Services are important to mainframe customers as they look to mobile-enable their existing applications to support new business need. In 2.3.1 we have further enhanced our ability to support customers in developing, testing and deploying CICS Web Services. Additionally, using Enterprise Test Server, clients can establish multi-user testing of CICS Web Services applications, without needing to consume additional mainframe MIPS.


Whether it’s to support web or mobile users, our customers need to modernize and extend existing applications to support the latest way consumers access their services. An example of how we support this is the Micro Focus Enterprise Server for .NET, which enables our customers to deploy their COBOL applications as Managed Code.  For customers with a Microsoft-centric strategy that want to integrate their existing applications with other services, this creates the option of extending COBOL applications using other managed code languages such as C#. CICS applications in a managed code, even Cloud-based environment, is readily-accessible.

COBOL Forever:

We pride ourselves on being the best mainframe development environment, and as such compatibility with IBM’s Enterprise COBOL remains a priority. We have made enhancements in our support for Enterprise COBOL 5.2 and are currently reviewing the new functions in COBOL 6 for inclusion in a future release of Enterprise Developer.

Subsytem Support:

Mainframe compatibility is a priority for our rehost customers so in addition to the Enterprise COBOL and CICS Web Services support already mentioned we have also delivered updates to our PL/I, IMS and DB2 support to further improve our compatibility with the mainframe and reduce the requirement for application changes when rehosting to Enterprise Server.

However, the list of what to expect in this latest drop from our regular product release schedule is considerably longer. Additional functionality highlights we’ve delivered based on our customers’ needs include:

  • Faster access to application knowledge through improved usability and better performance on large Enterprise Analyzer repositories.
  • Code coverage colorization to help developers quickly identify application code that has not been executed during testing cycles.
  • Incorporation of coding standards rules into continuous integration environments enabling easier use across development teams.
  • Increased access security to mainframe resources through support for ‘pass tickets.’
  • Reduced elapsed time for batch processes through improved sorting of Fixed Block files.

Where Can I get it?

Customers that are current on maintenance for any of these products can login and download updates from the SupportLine web portal. You can also access the release notes from the Product Documentation area on SupportLine and the Enterpise Analyzer and Enterprise  “What’s new” documents from the main Micro Focus Web site.

Contact us for further information if you would like to upgrade your current product to receive this latest update.

PL/I – 50 years young….

Relying on PL/I-based applications to tackle today’s challenges doesn’t have to be challenging. Amie Johnson checks out how the Micro Focus approach to modernization enables PL/I shops to get the most out of the rich and valuable business logic embedded in PL/I applications and support innovation.

50 years pl1

Did you know IBM shipped the first Pl/I compiler in 1966? Contemplating PL/I’s fifty-year anniversary made me wonder what fifty computer years feels like. Turning fifty in human years usually induces fear and anxiety because we’re forced to reckon with the fact that, according to today’s calculated life expectancy, we’ve lived more than half of our life. That’s intense. But, turning fifty in computer years seems dramatically more intense. Especially imagining if I were the CIO of a business relying on fifty year-old PL/I applications to compete in today’s world where the speed at which you can deliver services matters in fractions of a percentage point. Cue some uncertainty…..

As you can imagine, a fifty year old IT estate is an unwieldy array of disparate, heterogeneous systems, often woven together by a delicate fabric of dependencies and relationships. But the Intellectual Property captured within these estates contains nuggets of genuine gold. For example PL/I has boasting rights to some pretty remarkable accomplishments – from space travel to laying the foundation for the instant-price-quote economy that drives fierce competition in industries like insurance and travel.

PLi blog lunar

The truth is, there is still a sizable group of industry leading businesses using the differentiators delivered by their PL/I-based systems to compete and win today. And IBM has shipped new enhancements every year since 1999 including providing modernization capabilities that enable business-critical applications to interoperate with Java, process inbound and outbound XML documents, and work with Web services and the latest middleware.

Micro Focus too continues to invest in helping our PL/I customers by continuing to cultivate a team of PL/I talent that is unrivaled in the industry. Additionally, the latest update to the Enterprise Product Suite boasts an array of PL/I enhancements geared toward making the work of the PL/I teams more integrated.

Enterprise Developer support for PL/I now enables users to create projects on remote UNIX/Linux machines from the Eclipse IDE so developers can remotely edit, compile and debug their PL/I applications on the target machine from within the IDE running on Windows. This makes the use of development tools more consistent and the results from testing more relevant as the applications are running on the target environment.

Visual Studio-specific improvements include support for squiggles, IntelliSense, margins and error checking when editing, which improves developer productivity by making code development and problem determination easier.

And for organizations that need to consider a multi-platform environment or want to modernize their applications to take advantage of 64-bit server architecture, Enterprise Server offers improved functionality and greater language compatibility, making it easier to deploy PL/I workloads wherever the business needs them to be.

server room

CIOs today have to contend with plenty of challenges, like addressing the IT Backlog and meeting tough compliance targets while delivering new web, mobile and cloud-based services quickly. Relying on PL/I-based applications to tackle these challenges doesn’t have to be be challenging. Check out how our approach to modernization enables you to get the most from the rich and valuable business logic embedded in your PL/I applications, so you can support the business as it looks to innovate.

PLi blog


SUSECon 2015 – Harnessing Innovation

Amie Johnson from Micro Focus looks back over the November 2015 SUSECon in Amsterdam, including the Micro Focus session on how how COBOL, SUSE Linux and the IBM Mainframe can come together to deliver unique solutions in response to the challenges of this new digital age.

This year at SUSECon, 700 attendees convened in Amsterdam for a week of technical sessions and peer discussions on how to keep the world’s core business systems up and running all the time – as in it’s Saturday night and the servers alright. Don’t reboot it just patch uptime – so we can take can things like ATM machines, air travel and shopping on Black Friday for granted. Delegates from IBM, SAP, Fujitsu and others were on hand to collaborate with the open source community around bleeding edge innovations in the realm of invisible technologies that “just work.”

The core business system of many organizations touch our everyday lives.  But unlike their reputation for ‘always on’ availability, their make-up and composition are less straightforward.  Typically these systems are a mashup of decades-old, and intricately woven business logic with application data structured in a way that requires specialty skills and tools to manage, maintain and even understand. Which is why, for most IT organizations, true reverence of mission critical applications is only realized after something goes terribly wrong and these systems are inaccessible or unavailable.

We live in a data-driven economy.  Always on. Always on-demand and always changing.  This makes future-focused decisions tough. A lot of the discussions at SUSECon covered the challenges IT shops encounter when managing today and the future of their mission critical ‘everyday’ business applications. Questions overheard at SUSECon included:  How do I deliver faster, improve quality, or even create a DevOps culture? Do we have the knowledge to make confident application management decisions? How do we keep the best of what we have, build on it and run it in the cloud? The consequences of these decisions can result in costly missteps, loss ground to the competition or possible threats to the security and reputation of the business.

Micro Focus and SUSE: Harnessing Innovation Together

Last year’s SUSECon event saw Kevin Loosemore, executive chairman for Micro Focus, which now includes SUSE – talking about the synergies between these two brands. Which makes sense if you look at the shared list of customers. Micro Focus and SUSE serve 20,000 customers around the world. More than 90% are among the top 100 of Fortune Global companies. Many trust Micro Focus and SUSE technology to keep the most mission critical systems running smoothly, or what SUSE kernel guru, Vojtěch Pavlík characterizes as, “the things that are not seen, but are supposed to work perfectly.” SUSE Linux Enterprise runs stock markets, air traffic control systems, even space programs. And whether you think COBOL is dead or making a comeback doesn’t matter, because 70% of banking and financial transactions come from applications written in COBOL (some in Mainframe environments running SUSE Linux). These systems have to work perfectly – everyday.

SUSECon is microcosm of what we do to help our customers meet today’s challenges. We truly listen to our customers, discuss their challenges and opportunities, and then leverage our hard-earned wisdom from years of developing solutions to meet their unique needs. Both Micro Focus and SUSE collectively have 65 years of experience helping customers retain the valuable business logic within their core applications so customers can run those apps on enterprise-class IT systems in any environment. We make significant investments and work diligently to ensure everything works perfectly so your systems can adapt for future success. But delivering innovation requires more than the sum of one company as Nils Brauckmann, general manager at SUSE acknowledged in his keynote, “is not just about innovation,  innovation is really important but equally important is that we take this innovation and together with our partners, harness it. Having the right type of partnerships to get the job done is awesome.”

This approach is working. This year is the 15th anniversary of SUSE on the IBM mainframe – appropriately celebrated with beer and birthday cake.  Further evidence of the company’s ability to develop strong business partnerships to foster innovation is the caliber of the shows sponsors including Dell, SAP, IBM, Intel, Fujitsu, and Microsoft and support from open business initiatives including Eclipse Foundation, Linux FoundationOpenStack, WSO2 and, just announced at the show, Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Harnessing Innovation at the Application Level

Increasing IT agility today is all about the ability to quickly build and deploy high quality, next-generation applications that are open, secure and highly available so IT shops can innovatively tackle rapidly changing business needs. Both Micro Focus and SUSE are popular in the app dev community for offering some of the best dev tools. Micro Focus helps you take advantage of valuable business logic within your core systems as your design and deliver new services to serve new customer requirements. While SUSE helps you build and easily manage portable application stacks that can deploy anywhere from the mainframe to Amazon EC2 and even OpenStack (think software defined data centre). In the Micro Focus session, attendees learned how we can help you improve business agility, reduce cost and accelerate time to market for core COBOL business applications when ported to an open architecture, running SUSE Linux Enterprise. In the future, our customers can expect greater collaborate between SUSE and Micro Focus teams to deliver expanded value to their core business applications.

 Harnessing Innovation at the Hardware Level


Well, the real pressure is on when it comes to leveraging today’s fast changing hardware environment. Digital demands from mobile, big data, and Internet of Things require your software support billions of transactions making high performance, high throughput solutions more relevant than ever before.  In particular, this topic resonated for Micro Focus and SUSE’s customers that are passionate about LinuxOne, IBM’s effort to enlarge the ecosystem for Linux on the mainframe. IBM presented a live version of this open source demo from the Open Mainframe Project. The buzz and excitement around these speedy, RESTful mainframe systems (LinuxOne Emperor and Rockhopper) was infectious. Our customers can look forward to ways in which SUSE and Micro Focus can help you leverage the power of the mainframe platform alongside the innovative capabilities of Linux to deliver to enterprise services like making it easier to adopt DevOps.


The SUSECon experience successfully captured our approach to helping our customers adapt and succeed. Every business has its unique requirements, strategies for growth, competitive differentiation, but the key to success is often how are these goals best achieved?  We help you see how you can start from a position of strength, leverage what already works and build a sound strategy for future growth and innovation.