SHARE 2017: Do you know the way to San Jose?

Introduction

While we’re no strangers to SHARE, our customers are entering unfamiliar territories in many ways so it’s fitting we should all pitch up somewhere new for this year’s event. And if this song gets stuck in your head for days and days – then welcome to my world.

It’s the first SHARE event of 2017 and a great platform for meeting the mainframe community. It’s also a classic 1960s song, so I thought I’d reference it to look ahead to what SHAREgoers can expect this year.

Our best people are there with good news on digital transformation. Here’s what it all means. Just imagine Dionne Warwick singing it.

“I’m going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose”

Peace of mind. Important for every IT organization, business-critical for the enterprise mainframe world. Risk-averse, security conscious, presiding over their must-not-fail core systems. Oh – and they must also find the bandwidth and resources to support innovation. Peace of mind? Good luck with that.

A few things, there. First up, we’ll be demonstrating how we’ve added greater security provision to the mainframe and terminal emulation environments to ensure the critical data remains protected, secured.

Second, peace of mind is about knowing what the future has in store. And that’s digital transformation. Transformation is essential for remaining competitive in a digital world. The ‘new speed of business’ shifts up a gear every year. Enterprise software innovation on the mainframe can improve speed, efficiency, collaboration, and customer engagement. You just need to know how to do it.

For many of our customers, enterprise IT and the mainframe are almost synonymous. Connecting the two to create the forward-thinking innovation needed to compete in the digitally-enabled marketplace is why people are coming to SHARE.

SHARE is where you taste the Micro Focus flavor of innovation. New is good, but realizing extra value through increased efficiency, agility and cost savings from the data and business logic you already own is even better. If you’re looking to make some smart IT investments this year, then SHARE participation could realize a pretty good return.

I spoke to Ed Airey, Solutions Marketing Director here at Micro Focus, about finding this peace of mind. “As we hear often, keeping pace with change remains a challenge for most mainframe shops. In this digital age, expectations for the enterprise couldn’t be higher. Transforming the business to move faster, improve efficiency and security while modernizing core applications are key. Success requires a new strategy that delivers on that digital promise to delight the customer. Our Micro Focus solutions supporting the IBM Mainframe, make that happen – helping customers innovate faster and with lower risk …and peace of mind.”

 “I’ve got lots of friends in San Jose”

This one is as simple as it is literal. Lots of our mainframe friends will be in San Jose, so share a space with seasoned enterprise IT professionals, hear their successes and lessons learned.

The full lineup includes more than 500 technical sessions. Check out these highlights:

It’s good to see the EXECUForum back for San Jose. This two-day, on-site event unites enterprise IT leaders and executives for strategic business discussions on technology topics. We address key business challenges and share corporate strategies around business direction with industry peers. Micro Focus will participate, having put the topic of ‘new workload’ on the agenda – the growth opportunities for z systems remain impressive, as we recently mentioned.  Check out the agenda of EXECUForum here.

 “You can really breathe in San Jose”

The final lyrical metaphor for me is about taking time to understand, to witness all that the technology has to offer. To really breathe in the possibilities. To think about what digital transformation might look like for your mainframe organization – and how Micro Focus might deliver that vision.

We all want to use resources wisely, so save time and money and decrease the chance of error by talking to the product experts at the user- and vendor-led sessions, workshops and hands-on labs. Our booth will be full of mainframe experts ready to talk enterprise IT security, DevOps, AppDev, modernization and more. Stop by the SHARE Technology Exchange Expo, take a breather, maybe even play a game of Plinko.

We’re ready when you are.

3-2-1: The #DevDay Countdown has begun

With dozens of cities and thousands of delegates in the past four years – our #DevDay event is more popular than ever. Jackie Anglin previews this year’s exciting updates to the COBOL community’s must-attend show.

Introduction

It’s spring. And to mark the season of renewal and growth, we’re announcing the latest incarnation of our highly popular event series, Micro Focus #DevDay!  Now in its fourth year, #DevDay offers an out-of-this-world lineup of technical information, case studies and networking opportunities for you.  What’s new and different about this year? Let’s take a closer look….

The only constant is change

This year’s #DevDay is all about embracing change and let’s face it – change within IT is constant.  Platforms, architectures, applications, and delivery processes are continually adapting to meet new business requirements and market pressures.  But in order to achieve successful, lasting change, IT skills must also evolve and that’s what Micro Focus #DevDay is all about – technical education, building new skills and stronger community engagement. #DevDay delivers on this promise with a rocket booster of innovative content just for the enterprise application development community.

Today’s need: skill and speed

According to a recent Accenture survey, 91% believe organizational success is linked to the ability to adapt and evolve workforce skills. For starters, the business needs to respond to new competitive pressures, keep existing customers, retain market share and capitalize on new business opportunity, and these are just a few reasons. What makes this change proposition more challenging today is the plethora of new innovations in areas like mobile, cloud or IoT technologies including the connected devices we wear, drive or use to secure our homes. This requires an unprecedented technological prowess in IT.

But being smart won’t be enough on its own. This surge in the digital marketplace requires IT shops adapt faster than ever in order to keep pace with this unprecedented consumer demand for instant, accurate and elegantly designed content. Anywhere on the spectrum of status quo is no longer acceptable.  Delivering services in this new era requires tight business and IT alignment, better application delivery processes, greater efficiency and of course – speed.  For organizations, large and small, IT capability is the new competitive differentiator and as your responsive IT partner, Micro Focus, will help you meet these challenges.  Which brings us back to this year’s #DevDay lineup.

There is space for you at #DevDay

For organizations with IBM mainframe and other enterprise COBOL applications that need to move faster (without breaking things), #DevDay is for you.  Whether you manage COBOL apps in a distributed environment, or work with critical systems on the mainframe, or whether you work with those who do, here’s a list of reasons you should attend: latest tech content, real-world case studies, hands-on experience, a peer networking reception and our famously difficult ‘stump a Micro Focus expert’ contest.

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A universe of technology

This year’s #DevDay series is packed with new technology topics including platform portability, app development using Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs, mainframe DevOps, .NET, Java integration and much more.

Here are just a few of today’s highly relevant topics on the agenda:

  • REST assured with COBOL: API-enable your business systems
  • Dealing with Data: COBOL and RDBMS integration made simple
  • The modern mainframe: Deliver applications faster. Get better results

You – at the controls

#DevDay now offers a brand new opportunity to build hands on experience with our latest COBOL products.  Led by our experts, you can test drive for yourself some of the powerful new capabilities available to the enterprise application developer. You must pre-register to participate.  To do so, click here.

#DevDay: Future AppDev takes off

#DevDay is focused on you – the enterprise COBOL development community.  This is a perfect chance to learn best practices and experiences, connect with like-minded professionals, as well as build new technical skills.  Don’t miss this opportunity. Join us for a truly intergalactic #DevDay experience.  Seating is limited, so register now before the space-time continuum distorts!

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Touching Down Near You Soon

United States

Canada

Brazil

See what happens at a #DevDay and find us on social media.

What does a good IT Skills strategy look like?

Jackie Anglin from Micro Focus reflects on a recent SHARE.org IT Skills webinar. In part 2 of this series Lonnie Emard – IT-ology President and David Rhoderick, Manager of IBM z Systems Competitive Project Office share their thoughts on what they heard.

My last blog recapped a Micro Focus IT Skills webinar, during which invited industry experts joined the Micro Focus team to debate the IT Skills issue. Here, Lonnie EmardIT-ology President and David Rhoderick, Manager of IBM z Systems Competitive Project Office, offer their thoughts on the discussion.

So, David and Lonnie, how does an organization build an appropriately skilled workforce?

David“Look for people who can really make a long-term difference to the company – and think about who’s leaving in the next five years. That equates to about 10,000 hours, or the amount of time it takes to become expert in a particular skill. Also, look at the way tools are evolving. We don’t need green-screen programmers – we need people who can understand which tools to use for the right job and then use them effectively.”

LonnieAt Blue Cross – BCBS of South Carolina is a big partner of IBM and Micro Focus – we realized that an organization who would do the right things to create talent acquisition development and retention programs around COBOL and around mainframe, around enterprise systems, is that in the future we couldn’t solve this problem by ourselves. 

The Blue Cross model is about creating the strategy that Derek mentioned, understanding what you’re about and appreciating your skills and talents. Certainly, most of the large companies still running enterprise systems and IBM servers must pass down a set of knowledge and skills for repurposing as a ‘master and apprentice’ model. That worked tremendously well for us. At the same time, what we do internally has to be complemented with greater external access and reach.”

To the second question: “How does technology play its part in the IT skills challenge?”

David“The mainframe is evolving in parallel with the wider business picture: mobile technology, Internet of Things, new workloads that mesh with the mainframe. We at IBM are active in connecting new technologies to the backend. People find new technologies like JSON easy to do. We’ve had web services, we’ve had XML, all of these newer, open standard capabilities. It should be easy for someone familiar with this style of programming to work with a mainframe. And clearly there are very strong, sophisticated DevOps tools.” 

LonnieWhen technology is this expansive it can become confusing and complex. Everybody wants a ‘one size fits all’ answer to every technology solution in every industry and that’s just not realistic. So part of what we’re doing is to change the message out in the community.  An example is cutting a COBOL video to prove young people are not thinking, “Hey, [I] don’t want to work in that environment!”

“I understand what we’re trying to accomplish with IT. That’s our goal. I’s not about having a computer science degree, but being applied in all facets of the business. Now you’ve got somebody who’s legitimately impactful in their work. That’s the kind of skills challenge I think we’re seeing. The answer is to put that interdisciplinary piece together.” 

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The last question focused on the long term solution. Derek asked “Doesn’t the skills issue highlight the gap between skills being taught in schools and those demanded in the commercial world?”

David“Well I think, first of all, the solution is a long-term view of your IT strategy. Clearly a long-term mainframe strategy is crucial for any company – – banks, insurance companies, whoever – still anticipating huge, growing volumes of transactions and queries with the need to be increasingly responsive and agile. 

My advice is to have a long-term strategy for hiring, and to work with universities.  As Lonnie said, it is crucial that the people consuming the skills are brokering and collaborating with the sector producing them, along with parties like IBM who try to make it all happen.”

Lonnie“That has been the magic behind the collaboration of ITology – companies must understand where they’re headed and what that means in terms of an alignment of skills.  We’ve found a resonance that almost every job has a technology underpinning. The messages we talked about earlier are key to this whole thing in terms of a long-term solution.”

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In summary

It was a terrific to get such valuable insights from industry experts. Do you agree with their comments?  To listen to the full webinar, go here.  For more information on the Enterprise skills question, visit our page.

IT Skills: Industry experts have their say, Part 1

IT Skills remains an important topic in many organizations. In a recent webinar, hosted by SHARE, experts from Micro Focus, IBM and IT-ology gave some tremendous insights into this important question. Jackie Anglin caught up with Micro Focus’ panelist, Ed Airey, to hear all about it

Recently I helped arrange a webinar on IT Skills, featuring a panel of experts. Hosted by Micro Focus’ Derek Britton, the panel included Ed Airey – Micro Focus’ solutions marketing director, Lonnie Emard – President of IT-ology, David Rhoderick – Manager of IBM z Systems Competitive Project Office.

Derek set the scene describing reports of concerns over dwindling technical skills, but then asked Ed and the other panelists a range of key questions. Having worked with our University partners through the Micro Focus Academic Program and a variety of customers around our COBOL-based technology, Ed has some unique insights, so I was glad to catch up with him and ask him about how the webinar went:

ITSkills Q1

Ed the first question was “How does an organization build an appropriately skilled workforce?” – how did you see it?

Ed: “That’s a great question.  To best address future IT workforce needs, an organization must first assess their current IT (application) estate.  A strong understanding of the application portfolio supporting core business will drive the necessary conversation and action to best develop or recruit that sought after talent.  Fundamentally, though, an organization must begin by examining the value within its core business application portfolio.  If such applications remain vital to the long term success of that organization then IT leadership must align its IT skills plans to that of its core business applications.  That being said, this new’ digital economy’ has added even further complexity to the skills planning process.  Supporting core business systems is important, but IT must also possess the skills needed to deliver ‘new innovation’ as requested by the business.  For an organization to appropriately respond to this challenge, it must recruit and develop IT talent with an understanding and appreciation of core business applications but also with eye to future technology and how the ‘best of both worlds’ can come together to address core business needs.”

ITSkills Q2

The second question was about how technology plays its part in the skill challenge. Thoughts?

Ed: “Yes – and we see this pretty clearly. Technology plays a hugely important role in addressing IT skills concerns.  Both IBM and Micro Focus share a long standing commitment to technology innovation and have made similar investments in this area.  Here at Micro Focus, we believe that technology can mitigate challenges organizations have in attracting ‘next gen’ talent.  In the context of business applications, many IT shops use tech that ‘did the job’ well enough, but required many years of experience to command.  But the application development landscape has changed.  According to reports, over 70% of professional software developers are building enterprise applications using either Visual Studio or Eclipse.  And these same IDEs are the development tools being taught within most IT university programs. So graduates will have modern IT development skills but also a command (and interest) for many programming languages.  Herein is the strategy for enterprise organizations to attract next generation talent in support of core business systems but also to acquire the same talent needed to modernize these applications for the future. Micro Focus and IBM have made investments in this space to simplify application development across all environments, mainframe, distributed and cloud.   Developers can now easily build and test enterprise applications (COBOL, PL/I) using the latest IDEs (Visual Studio or Eclipse) allowing organizations to leverage modern technology to bring on more skilled talent where it is needed.”

ITSkills Q3

Finally Ed, you were asked what is the long term solution?

Ed: “That’s right. Here’s how I saw it – the long term solution to addressing industry skills concern rests with the greater community and the ability of that collective group to better collaborate together, align business need to IT skill development and ultimately, deliver lasting change.  That change occurs through honest, open and continual dialogue between partners – Academic universities shaping IT curriculums to the needs of its local business partners (the enterprise).  Enterprise IT partnering more closely with their local university and IT vendors playing their role through the FREE provision and education of modern technology.  It’s only when these three forces align, can the community truly implement lasting change and a long term solution to the ‘IT skills’ concern.”

Thanks Ed – was there anything else you saw as important?

Ed: “To be honest this is an ongoing discussion for many organizations, which are constantly changing, and need to look at their talent pool regularly. But for organizations seeking to move quickly to address IT Skills uneasiness, I would suggest the following actions:

  • Begin an assessment of your current and future IT skill needs.  Ask how do these skills align to your existing CORE business application portfolio?  Develop a succession plan (shadow program) to cross train IT talent within your organization.
  • Reach out to your local university.  Develop a partnership.  Share your needs and begin to influence the IT program at that university.  Better still suggest your local university research the IBM Academic Initiative or the Micro Focus Academic program for software and educational support.”

In my next blog, we’ll recap the panel discussion including thoughts and views from IT-ology and IBM on tackling the skills opportunity that organizations have. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback too! Find me on Twitter

‘Sur-thrive-al’ guide to attending #Devday

We get asked a lot of questions via Social Media, our website and email about upcoming Micro Focus #DevDays. Jackie Anglin is now a seasoned #DevDay Veteran having presided over 25 of them to date aross North America. We’ve summed up the most common questions and here are Jackie’s answers to help you plan your day!

We get asked a lot of questions via Social Media, our website and email about upcoming Micro Focus #DevDays.  Jackie Anglin is now a seasoned #DevDay Veteran having presided over 25 of them to date aross North America. We’ve summed up the most common questions and here are Jackie’s answers to help you plan your day!

Where do I register and how far in advance should I let you know I will be going?

We do our best to make sure everyone has a great seat and a great view. Registering early is key and the best place to find the schedule is the #DevDay hubpage Plan to arrive before the morning session begins because these events are growing.

You’ll see from the photos there are very few spare seats and a some delegates show up on the door on the day too. Register early to help us find the right space, cater correctly and get the logistics right. If there isn’t a #DevDay scheduled near you then simply fill out the form to at the bottom of the #DevDay hubpage to request one and we’ll see what we can do.

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Are the #DevDay events only aimed at COBOL or Mainframe COBOL Developers?

Think about bringing a COBOL sceptic or two! Your whole development team is welcome, COBOL developers and non-COBOL developers alike! It’s been really interesting to watch developers who haven’t been exposed to COBOL see how easily they can work with the language using modern Visual Studio or eclipse IDEs.  It’s all about taking what works today and ensuring it will still work in years to come – we’ve covered some of this in a previous #DevDay blog. Don’t forget that a #DevDay only costs your time so the business-case of expanding the invitation to a wider team may not be as difficult as you think. Being there together might just lead to a light bulb moment of cross team developer efficiency!

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Do you provide lunch and drinks?

We like to feed our guests well, blame it on my Southern American upbringing, but no one leaves hungry. I highly recommend everyone stay for the networking reception afterwards, and invite your local colleagues (and maybe even your boss or manager) to join us.  Our techies let their hair down (or not, in the case of Mike Bleistein) and like to talk even more about the COBOL community, the old days, the future and answer your tough questions.  A designated driver or public transport might be a good idea! If you are travelling in why not get in the mood by downloading our #COBOLRocks playlist to your Spotify account. bier19

What do you mean by ‘Stump the expert’?

It’s the last and my favourite part of the day!!  It’s your chance to ask our panel of experts your hardest questions specific to your environment or related to your current and future projects and development challenges. I want our know-it-all experts to get stumped.  If you stump them, make sure you boast remorselessly about it on Twitter to let the world know!  As far as I know they’ve never been defeated with any COBOL or Mainframe AppDev challenge……

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Can I find the events online too?

 These events buzz as much online as they do in the room, we’re very passionate about social media if you can’t tell by the hashtag in our event name. We seriously love it and our large developer community talks regularly via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. In fact, I get pretty giddy when I meet a fellow tweeter…so much so that I may have to take a selfie to tweet. If you do tweet about #DevDay you’ll be in line for a reward  and quickly find out how many likeminded Developers there are out there! Details of prizes and awards with will be announced on the day.

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What do I need to bring with me?

While we love the stories about Derek Britton back in the day at past Developer Conferences, I love hearing the stories about the cool applications powered by COBOL out there. Please  bring your real world stories to share. You could also bring a laptop if you’re involved in a Product Trial. There aren’t many opportunities these days to get up close and personal with the Principal Product Architects and Managers so use the opportunity for your own advantage!

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Don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter and point out what I’ve missed from the list if you’re one of our #DevDay alumni. Hopefully see you there in person at a North American #DevDay soon! If you can’t attend one of our North American events, you can find a location near you or request one at the hubpage.

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What does COBOL sound like?

On the #mainframedebate recently, people began suggesting potential theme songs for the mainframe. Jackie Anglin from Micro Focus investigates some potential theme songs for COBOL.

COBOL theme song

On the #mainframedebate recently, people began suggesting potential theme songs for the mainframe. The suggestions are all on this Spotify playlist which, sadly, doesn’t include one of the most obvious candidates.

This got me thinking that, surely, COBOL deserves a dedicated playlist as well.  After all, like music itself, this language has spanned generations and genres. And not only is it still going, it is highly relevant, in daily use and constantly being reinvented to reflect the world around it.

To extend the metaphor, some bands or artists reinvent themselves and extend their shelf lives by many decades. U2, the Stones, and Tom Jones have all managed to hang around for years and evolve with their audiences. Some bands disappear altogether and re-appear many years later for big-buck reunion gigs – the Eagles and Pink Floyd are great examples of this. Some artists demand a residual affinity that seems timeless – witness Dolly Parton wowing Glastonbury last year.

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Elvis has left the building

But COBOL first entered the public consciousness in 1959. Here are the top 10 US singles for that year.  It’s difficult to find anyone on the list with a pulse, let alone still living in the public consciousness.  Sure, Elvis is immortal – and possibly isn’t dead anyway, depending on who you believe – but Carl Dobkins Jr? Toni Fisher? Wilbert Harrison? I doubt that they are household names in their own homes.

That’s not to dismiss their contribution to popular culture, any more than I would diss Turbo Pascal, Fortran  or even FACT, the precursor to COBOL. Fortran and FACT were big in 1959 too and yet neither have survived and thrived in the way that COBOL has. But then, if the Crests  had invested $50-60m every year just as Micro Focus supports COBOL, perhaps they would still be playing 16 Candles to crammed stadiums every year.

Interstellar Overdrive

We have blogged before about how the careers of COBOL and Pink Floyd have almost run in parallel. But COBOL is even older than Piper at the Gates of Dawn. So, how can we express all the core values of COBOL – longevity, flexibility, future-proofing – as a single song?

We had a quick straw poll at the office while building our #COBOLrocks playlist – yes, it’s A Thing now – and while there were some promising suggestions, we never really nailed it. Stayin’ Alive – sure, but COBOL isn’t just surviving, it’s evolving; see also Alive – surely, Pearl Jam’s finest moment.

It’s Not Unusual, the song keeping Tom Jones’ bank manager happy, works a little better. Because there are around 200bn lines of COBOL in regular use across the globe today in government agencies, finance houses, banking, insurance and other mainframe owners. So that’s a good one.

Under Pressure was another suggestion, but that’s not so good. COBOL is future-proofed and COBOL transactions currently outnumber Google searches by 200 to one. Our business is built on COBOL and that won’t change. So, under pressure? Not from us, or our customers.

Can you do better?

When I work, I like to listen to music, and I know plenty of developers put their beats on to code to the rhythm.  Why not take a minute to download our #COBOLrocks playlist (you’ll have to create a Spotify account if you don’t have one already).What tunes best describe COBOL? Tell us and we’ll add them in.

Sign up for an upcoming Developer Day  and if you hear one of your submissions, there’s a prize with your name on it.

My own favorite? Easy: Don’t Stop Believing. I recently saw Journey in concert, with a new lead singer of course, and probably a different crowd than what they performed to 30 years ago. But their music was still great.  Like Journey, COBOL may look different these days, but there’s no harm in being reliable, dependable and giving the people what they want.  Rock on, COBOL.

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Micro Focus DevDays: A window into the future of COBOL

Jackie Anglin from Micro Focus invites you to come and see more about what Micro Focus mainframe and COBOL products can do. At a North American #DevDay near you

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So, what could Developer Days do for you?

These sessions  are an opportunity for our North American partners and customers to see for themselves the opportunities that new, enabling technologies could bring to long-established COBOL applications. You’ll have to see it to believe it…

This year our ‘A Team’ of tech guys have a plan (and yes, they do love it when it comes together) to help our customers and partners make more of their mainframes. Because by hitching all that power to Visual COBOL, the rich development environment that delivers true innovation, they can help you make more of your application estate.

With the right approach – and a little insight – your organization’s current mainframe, Windows, Unix and Linux-based COBOL business systems can support tomorrow’s technologies including mobile, cloud, .NET and JVM. And if you want to see innovation in action….

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See for yourself

We’re always pleased and proud to have our partners stand up to explain and demonstrate how Visual COBOL has breathed new life into their COBOL applications and this year will be no different.

In our most recent DevDays we heard from application knowledge experts Transvive, while IBM walked us through the possibilities that the zOS operating system brings to the contemporary mainframe. Sammons Financial and Empire Life insurance have already shown us what their version of the future looks like so want to contribute with a presentation of your own, then let us know.

For the forthcoming shows we can confirm that, among others, technology consultants Select Computing and infotech firm Information Analysis Incorporated will be demonstrating how they have given their COBOL apps a new lease of life, as will Spears Software and marine insurance specialists Boat US.

And this year’s show-and-tell has a main event that proves just how versatile Visual COBOL can be in taking old-school COBOL apps into real world, right-now situations. The demonstration from our partners at Astadia is a walk-through of how insurance claims advisors use Google Glasses connected to COBOL applications when making claim assessment site visits to their clients.

Exciting innovation from trusted applications

So these DevDays are all about taking you into tomorrow with what you have today. About not risking core processes in attempting to create a genuine business advantage through innovation. It’s about supporting good ideas with the COBOL technology that still drives more than 70% of today’s business transaction processing systems.

We created Developer Days to demonstrate how enterprise application developers can quickly and easily modernize their COBOL systems using the very latest in COBOL development technology and with innovations such as the Astadia presentation we have walking, talking proof that it really works.

Book today. Innovate tomorrow

Developer Days are all about seeing the potential. Everyone takes home something different, whether it is a how-to of achieving best practice or the inspiration to try something new. So come along to a Dev Day near you soon (and stay tuned for updates and additions to the schedule available here)

Aside from seeing Micro Focus mainframe development technology at work, you will learn how to:

  • Accelerate time to delivery on mainframes and distributed platforms
  • Enable greater focus on new innovation
  • Leverage modern COBOL development tools to maximize current development resources
  • Attract the next generation of developer talent

While demonstrations and presentations from our tech team will explain the potential, it is the real-world testimonials from Micro Focus’ partner and customer community that bring it to life.

Who else should attend? 

  • Essentially any organization thinking about – or in the process of – modernizing their COBOL applications.
  • Anyone wanting to extend them to the Cloud, mobile and managed code (.NET or JVM) environments
  • Anyone with the inspiration to do more with their application portfolio but without the how-to knowledge.

 

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Beyond Terminal Emulation: Rumba+ looking good with Award-winning usability

We always said it – and now we can prove it. Rumba+ really does represent a class-leading Terminal Emulation and User Interface modernization solution. . Good enough to have won a 2014 Product of the Year Award from Mobility Tech Zone.

rumbachampionFrom who…?

Mobility Tech Zone is the go-to web resource for the mobile broadband industry. It’s a rolling feed of news, analysis, product info and downloadable resources for mobility and communications professionals. It has a clear focus on the innovations they need to overcome the challenges of disruptive technologies like BYOD and the rush to mobile.

Mobility Tech Zone is sponsored by TMC and Crossfire Media and TMC’s remit includes call center technologies, just one area where Rumba+ is proving to be a game-changer. It’s likely that the judges recognise the potential of Rumba+ to make a real difference to their specialist area. Maybe that’s why they were “very impressed” with Rumba+….

Award-winning mobility

Carl Ford, CEO and Community Developer, Crossfire Media, explains. “As leaders in the evolution to mobility we feel our award winners are delivering on enabling users by making carriers and enterprise networks capable of supporting our exponential data demands.”

In other words, Carl was looking for products that genuinely enable mobility in data transfer. That could almost be a product description for Rumba, which is bringing mobility to business applications and enabling a new view on established applications, bringing a fresh perspective on the world of green-screens – and all without changing a single line of code. Now that’s innovation.

As the Mobility Tech Zone award has recognised, Rumba delivers on the ‘enabling users’ aspect –major players like Allianz are accessing their core applications with user-friendly home tech, such as iPads, Windows and web browsers to slash ‘on-boarding’ times and boost business efficiency.

Meanwhile Aviva Italia have used Rumba+ to improve the user experience for the people who use their applications – improving their chances of recruiting and retaining industry talent, as digital expert Matt Ballantine notes on his blog. Many other Rumba+ customers enjoy the productivity gains and bypass the accessibility issues plaguing nearly half the companies appearing in the ‘IT Growth and Transformation’ survey recently commissioned by managed services firm Control Circle.

Achievable modernization from Rumba +

Similarly, this Vanson Bourne survey discovered that 54% of CIOs believe their green screens are “negatively impacting end user retention and recruitment”, while 98% of respondents recognise that new features would boost productivity but think modernization is too difficult. Well not anymore!

Rumba+ is risk-free, cost-effective technology that improves end-user efficiency without recoding. Need five more reasons to make the move? Try these.

Delivering modern user experiences is high on the CIO agenda. Rumba + consistently outperforms other products in the terminal emulation space, as Adam Rates, Senior IT Manager at Allianz UK notes in their case study …. and Mobility Tech Zone agree. Try it for yourself right here….

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Developer Days: Applications and Andy Warhol

So, the current season of ten Developer Day events has just wound up, and now all the presentations are done and the prizes handed out – what are the take-outs for Micro Focus?

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Well, they can’t be measured in numbers alone. Industry statistics about COBOL’s continued popularity may be interesting, but nothing beats hearing first-hand about the value our customers’ COBOL applications are delivering to their businesses. And while case studies are valuable, anecdotal material is priceless.

At Developer Days, we’re hearing from people getting great results using Visual COBOL systems on new platforms, such as .NET, Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and the cloud, as well as UNIX, Windows and Linux, without changing a single line of code. It’s good for the business-critical applications users already have, and those they will need in the future. After all, building applications is what COBOL is for. And how many other programming languages can boast 50 years of service?

The DNA of Business Applications

At Micro Focus, we think COBOL is the most valuable application development option available to our customers, and that’s what we are hearing at our Developer Days. These are real people talking about real world applications. Some are focussed on getting more out of their current business-critical applications, others want to implement innovation for the future. We don’t call it the Agent of Change for nothing.

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Gartner confirms the ongoing resilience of COBOL. They estimated that about 80% of the 300bn lines of computer code currently in use are COBOL. People are still hiring COBOL developers to work on new projects, and we’re using our own initiatives to ensure they’ll be there, supporting future business initiatives.

But COBOL is just for financial services, right?

Wrong. Sure, COBOL supports much of the world’s banking and insurance vertical markets, but it is at play in many of our customers’ applications and they shared some of the details with us at the developer day events. We serve a diverse client base. To quote a few examples, they are using COBOL to create apps that manage livestock genetic information across US, and play-by-play editing software for sports coaches, to quote two examples. Need more proof? We heard all about how Micro Focus COBOL development innovation is at work in so many situations. They included…

  • An application that manages ingredient supply chain across a New York Kosher store chain
  • An application to drive footwear inventory and retail POS in Massachusetts.
  • A Private Mortgage Insurance system in Boston
  • A Hospital Material Supply Management and Tracking application in Atlanta
  • An application to provide Boat Insurance in Washington, DC
  • A Life, Property, Casualty Insurance system  in the North East
  • An outdoor and hunting Sport Accessories Wholesaler and Distributor in Canada
  • An application providing County Government Citizen Services in Texas
  • A Retail food manufacturer and wholesaler system
  • A range of back-office applications for a major ISP and Communications provider
  • A range of internal systems supporting a global Automotive manufacturer and retailer

The customer view – Neil Willby

The recent UK Developer Day event saw a customer showcase presentation from Neil Willby, managing director for Eurorealm Consultants, an ISV specializing in accountancy software. Neil demonstrated how Eurorealm have gone from green-screen to Cloud and mobile, keeping pace with industry trends for four decades using innovative COBOL technology from Micro Focus.

Guess the brand

Some big names dropped by to our Dev Days. These are contemporary brands that recognise how their future could be written in a language half a century old. They include a major urban shoe retailer, a ‘star’ of the German car market and a company whose product featured in one of Andy Warhol’s most iconic paintings. Hundreds of attending customers recognise the potential value that Visual COBOL could bring to their applications and, by extension, their business.

Developer Days are now also attracting non-COBOL people with differing job descriptions, all interested in the possibilities that COBOL applications and data handling could offer them. Because there are more similarities between COBOL and modern data processing systems than you might think.

Better performance for more people

Micro Focus Visual COBOL uses the very latest technology to deliver industry-leading development and deployment tools across a variety of platforms for different skillsets. From business analyst and IT manager right through to developers – who can’t use dramatically-reduced development costs and improved application and organizational performance?

Come along and see for yourself. Share your COBOL story and see the possibilities that COBOL could offer your organization going forwards. We’re pulling together our programme of the Developer Days for 2014 and we’d love to see you there. Discover more here

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Micro Focus COBOL Developer Days: COBOL’s Future Starts Here – and so does yours

Jackie Anglin from Micro Focus gives you the low-down on our upcoming Micro Focus COBOL Developer Days

Do you want to stay at the forefront of technology? If so, you’re looking in the right place. COBOL Developer Days are the perfect opportunity for developers to discover the latest trends in enterprise application development and the technology which is driving COBOL’s future.  And believe me – the future of COBOL is looking brighter than ever.

What’s in it for me?

This one-day technical workshop equips you with the insight and knowledge you need to take your applications forward. Ask questions – and we mean lots. Talk to our COBOL product team (see below) and network with fellow COBOL users. More importantly, see Visual COBOL in action – it’s much better than The Hunger Games movie, we promise. Also, learn what its innovative capabilities can do for you. Have you met Developer Dave?  He’s innovating with Visual COBOL and so can you.

We’ll talk about:

  • Addressing the forces of change – we’re sure you know what they are but how do you tackle them head on?
  • First steps to getting started with Visual COBOL – take that first step with Scot Nielsen and Mike Bleistein – something not to miss
  • Building managed code apps without changing your native code – yep, we said WITHOUT changing your native code
  • Application development in the cloud – see how easy it is to deploy COBOL apps to the cloud
  • Transform your User Interface without rewriting your app
  • And, a special ‘Community’ chosen topic where you get your chance to pick  from leveraging web services, moving your applications to the cloud, working with object-oriented COBOL, or exploring CICS.NET and Batch.NET capabilities.

Ask the experts

Our Visual COBOL experts are on hand to help you get started on your journey. But who exactly are they?

Scot Nielsen, Product Manager for COBOL solutions including Net Express, Server Express and Visual COBOL.

Not to be mistaken for Val Kilmer. So what does he actually do (other than look exactly like Val Kilmer)?  Scot defines the technical strategy for the Micro Focus COBOL product line including Visual COBOL. Yep, he’s ‘that guy’.  A great guy to grab a coffee with during the day, who enjoys shed building (I have no clue what that means either. Maybe it’s something the English like to do on rainy days).

Ed Airey, Product Marketing Director for COBOL solutions.

Ed is responsible for the Visual COBOL Go to Market planning, development and execution. He has been focusing on the COBOL skills crisis facing many of our corporate organizations, investigating how to best overcome this challenge through both technology and community engagement. Be sure to ask Ed for a Little Book of COBOL. On his days off – which are very rare – you can find Ed enjoying a baseball or hockey game. He’s the calm, cool and collected one though.

Michael (Mike) Bleistein, Principal Architect, Product Management.

Michael is an EXPERT – we put that in CAPS because he’s that good – in the mainframe field when it comes to COBOL/CICS. Currently he specializes in modernization through .NET and SOA, helping customers understand Micro Focus solutions and how they can be used to combat their business problems. We count on Mike to remind us daily and hourly that you don’t have to take the ‘B’ out of COBOL to be COOL. This is your cue to laugh – he loves it.

Jim Lane, Senior Solutions Engineer specializing in Microsoft Technologies.

He has over twenty-five years – that’s a long time for such a young guy – of IT experience as a software developer, systems architect and systems integrator. Jim is an MCSD with a keen eye for VB.Net and web based development. As well as being a Practicing Member of the Worldwide Institute of Software Architects (WWISA), he travels the world providing support for Micro Focus customers. Whether listening to or playing, Jim is always jamming to music – so ask him for playlist recommendations. Jim lives in Atlanta, the best city in the South. Even if I do say so myself!

So at this point, I need to ask: have you registered for the upcoming Developer Days in Boston on December 10, or in Washington DC, December 12? Register now.

Tweet your thoughts on the future of COBOL and application development @MicroFocus and look out for the #COBOLrocks hashtag. You can also follow Developer Days on Twitter #DevDays. Be sure to give our COBOL experts some Twitter-love.  They love it – honestly they do.


Lights…camera…it’s showtime! Garter Symposium / IT Expo Orlando

So. My big moment. A whole week of them.

Not a great day – there were no marching bands, parades or military flypasts to welcome me when I got here. Orlando? Did you not get the memo?

At this stage, I’m ruled by my to-do list. It’s a biggie and it’s getting bigger so I’ve had to prioritize it. The stuff written in RED BOLD UPPER CASE lettering comes first.

1) Check that fingers are crossed (This should guarantee all the boxes and materials have made it onsite).

2) Re-cross them to make sure all the staff are on their way. (Yes, Frank – I understand. I really do.)

3) Check hotel reservations. Then re-check them. Then do it again. (Note to self: have you checked the hotel reservations?)

4) Start sorting shirts for the staff who are on their way. They are, right? Yes?

5) Double-check the video showreel (thanks John Wyer & Purple!) and ensure the right file goes on the memory stick. A Gartner show is no place for my holiday snaps.

6) Meet with the presenters for our speaking session. Check they can all speak.

So in short – my life is an endless loop of checking, double and triple-checking. This is where the rubber hits road – and where any miscommunication will start hurting, big time.

I heard from my taxi driver last night – and they never mislead you, right? – that the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo will bring in more than 13,000 people. So no pressure there, then … (Note to self: We’re gonna need a bigger stand)

The movers and shakers are all here. And I mean literally – the movers are carrying in all the vendor materials and the shakers (ie all of us vendors) are ‘shaking’ their boxes to make sure their giveaways and collateral made all in one piece.  AV is being set up here, Internet folks are draping cabling around there. If this is the calm before the storm, it isn’t very calm…

If you are anyone in the IT world, you are here. Or thinking that you should be. Who’s not here, you ask?  Frank Borland is off saving another company from another disastrous testing failure, so unfortunately he’s just here in spirit. And video.

Several of our twitterific staff have made it – Kevin Brearley, Archie Roboostoff, Andrew Wickett, Emerson Sklar – tweet them to say hello or better yet, stop by booth #500 to say hi in person.  We’ll be there ready to shake hands with new and old friends.

Must run, the delivery guy is here with MORE boxes. Nearly time for curtain up….seeya soon