The choice is yours – #DevDay drivers

The Micro Focus DevDay roadshow continues to attract large crowds. David Lawrence attended our latest shows to learn why it remains the must-see event for the COBOL community

#DevDay draws in the crowds

With hundreds of attendees over the past 12 months, Micro Focus DevDays continue to pack them in. Last  week’s events in New York and Toronto were no exception. This blog uncovers why so many of the global COBOL community attend our event.

We spoke with application developers from institutions, large and small, looking for solutions to build on, maintain, extend and adapt their inventory of business-critical COBOL applications to meet new business needs or opportunities. These customers view COBOL as fundamental to their respective business strategy and operations, not just for today, but into the future. These clients have, by and large, seen how extending and adapting their current proven and reliable COBOL solutions delivers more value faster, and with less risk than other strategies.

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Skilling up

One attendee we spoke with came to DevDays because of increasing new business demands on his application portfolio. This person has been looking to increase his COBOL staff to meet them. He had advertised for COBOL programmers, but it seemed there were none to be found in his market. So, he is changing his approach, and has now decided to bring in a skilled C# or Java developer and train them in-house on COBOL.

We suggested the expediency of putting these new staff members in front of a modern IDE for COBOL, one which looks and feels like the modern IDEs available for Java or C#, and is supported for both Eclipse and Visual Studio environments. Micro Focus Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer fit the bill nicely. These modern IDE’s offer advanced automation features, such as configurable, panel-based layouts, wizards, and a context sensitive editor, and, a seamless interaction with modern managed code environments (Java and/or .NET). They will be entirely familiar to those from a Java or .NET background.

Coincidentally, that topic was covered in the afternoon session which showed Micro Focus’ solutions for mainframe developers:  Enterprise Analyzer and Enterprise Developer. We heard from C# programmers who found that by using Enterprise Developer as their IDE they were productive in COBOL in less than a week.

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Go OO – ­and fast

In response to a question about working with object-oriented solutions, the audience was treated to a live demo by Micro Focus’s own Mike Bleistein. Using the standard capabilities of our development tools, Mike built an interface to a traditional relational database, using an older COBOL application. Mike used our object oriented COBOL classes to create a simple mortgage rate query application with a modern user interface, which made it more accessible and more easily used than the ‘green screen’, text-based implementation it would replace.  Such a transformation takes an hour for a simple application, a fraction of the time it would take to take to do this by hand.

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Banking on the latest capabilities

Another attendee, a major international banking client, uses our mainframe development technology. They wanted to identify a path towards implementing the latest release of our Enterprise Developer product. This release offers a more efficient Eclipse-based environment which will integrate into their existing Eclipse environment. In addition, this customer is also seeking ways to establish a more available and easily managed mainframe test environment, which is another of the Micro Focus enterprise technology offerings.

Opening up Open Systems

A developer whose organization builds and operates core COBOL systems under UNIX, said their reason for attending DevDay was driven by market demand. Their challenge is simple – how can their core business service be made available across new internet and mobile interfaces? Establishing a modern, digital interface for their clients is vital. Our experts showed the Micro Focus Visual COBOL technology, which does just that, providing insight in to how that challenge can be met, fast, at low risk.

Technology choices

We spoke with an independent software developer. Devising a new application, the developer has been exploring a range of modern development technologies for building the right ‘front end’. But when we asked them about the core business processing, they confessed “That’s a no brainer – it has to be COBOL – it’s the best tool for the job”. DevDay showed them live examples of how COBOL and newer technologies can integrate and co-exist in today’s platforms.

Micro Focus – the COBOL guys

So, what are we saying here? Simple – a great many organizations, all facing unique challenges, keep turning and returning to COBOL, and Micro Focus technology, to resolve their issues.

Micro Focus continues to invest over $60 million annually to support just about any COBOL environment our customers have run in the past and present, or will run in the future. It was great to meet many of them this week in New York and Toronto. Here’s to many more #DevDay events.

David Lawrence

Global Sales Enablement Specialist

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DevOps – pressing ahead

In an IT world that seems to be accelerating all the time, the clamour for faster delivery practices continues. Derek Britton takes a quick look at recent press and industry reports.

Introduction

In many customer meetings I tend to notice the wry smiles when the discussion turns to the topic of IT delivery frequency. The truth is, I don’t recall any conversation where the client has been asked to deliver less to the business than last year. No-one told me, “we’re going fast, and it’s fast enough, thanks”.

The ever-changing needs of an increasingly-vocal user community guarantees that IT’s workload continues to be a challenge. And this prevails across new systems of engagement (mobile and web interfaces, new user devices etc.) as well as systems of record (the back-office, data management, number crunching business logic upon which those systems of engagement depend for their core information).

Moving at pace, however, needs to be carefully managed. Less haste, more speed, in fact. Gartner says a quarter of the Global2000 top companies will be using DevOps this year. Let’s look to another deadline-driven entity, the press, for a current view.

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Banking on DevOps

Speaking to a conference of over 400 at a DevOps conference in London, ING Bank global CIO Ron van Kemenade says investment in new skills and a transition to DevOps is critical as the bank adjusts to a mobile and online future through its “Think Forward” digital strategy.

“We wanted to establish a culture and environment where building, testing and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently and more reliably. When beginning this journey we started with what matters most: people,” van Kemenade says.

Putting the focus on engineering talent and creating multi-disciplinary teams where software developers partner with operations and business staff has led to more automated processes, a sharp reduction of handovers and a “collaborative performance culture”, he adds.

Speaking at the same event, Jonathan Smart, head of development services at Barclays, talked up an eighteen-month push by the bank to incorporate agile processes across the enterprise

Over the past year-and-a-half, the amount of “strategic spend” going into agile practices and processes has risen from four percent to more than 50%, says Smart, and the company now has over 800 teams involved

To accelerate its own transformation, BBVA has adopting a new corporate culture based on agile methodologies. “The Group needs a cultural change in order to accelerate the implementation of transformation projects. It means moving away from rigid organizational structures toward a more collaborative way of working”, explains Antonio Bravo, BBVA’s Head of Strategy & Planning. “The main goal is to increase the speed and quality of execution.”

Worth SHARing

Little wonder that the IBM mainframe community organization, SHARE, is continuing a significant focus on DevOps at the forthcoming August 2016 show in Atlanta. Tuesday’s keynote speech is called z/OS and DevOps: Communication, Culture and Cloud”, given by members of the Walmart mainframe DevOps team.

Meanwhile, an article featured in Datamation, and tweeted by SHARE, provides further evidence and arguments in favour of adopting the practice. It cites a report from “2016 State of DevOps Report” which says, “[Developers using DevOps] spend 22 percent less time on unplanned work and rework, and are able to spend 29 percent more time on new work”

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Time to Focus

Of course, Micro Focus are neither strangers to SHARE nor to DevOps. At a recent SHARE event, we attended the DevOps discussion panel, discussing technical, operational and cultural aspects.

More recently, Micro Focus’s Solution Director Ed Airey penned an informative article published in SDTimes, outlining a smart approach to mainframe DevOps. The rationale, he says, is simple – competitive pressure to do more.

“Competitive differentiation depends on [organizations’] ability to get software capabilities to market quickly, get feedback, and do it again”

Addressing major challenges to make DevOps a reality, in both mainframe and distributed environments, Airey talks about how major question marks facing DevOps teams can be tackled with smart technology, and refined process; questions such as collaboration, development process, culture, skills, internal justification. He concludes with encouraging projected results, “Standardizing on common tooling also enables productivity improvements, sometimes as high as 40%.”

Of course – not everyone is convinced

Modern delivery practices aren’t for everyone. And indeed some issues sound quite daunting. Take Cloud deployment for example.

Sounds daunting? A recent Tech Crunch article certainly thought so.

We are treated to a variety of clichés about the topic such as “ancient realm” and “the archaic programs”. However, the publication failed to notice some important things about the topic.

Central to the piece is whether COBOL based existing systems could be “moved” to another platform. The inference was that this was an unprecedented, risky exercise. What’s perhaps surprising, to the author at least, is that platform change is no stranger to COBOL. Micro Focus’ support of over 500 platforms since its inception 40 years ago is supplemented by the fact that the COBOL language, thanks to our investment, is highly portable and – perhaps most importantly in this case – platforms such as the Cloud or more specifically Red Hat (alongside SUSE, Oracle and many other brands of UNIX too) are fully supported with our Micro Focus range. That is to say, there was never any issue moving COBOL to these new platforms: you just need to know who to ask.

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Moving Ahead

Anyway, I can’t stop for long, we’re moving fast ourselves, continuing the DevOps discussion. Upcoming deadlines? Find us at SHARE in Atlanta in August, or visit us at a DevDay in the near future, or catch up with us on our website where we’ll be talking more about DevOps and smarter mainframe delivery soon.

Neuer Sicherheitsstandard PCI DSS 3.2. – Die Daumenschrauben für die Finanzindustrie werden angezogen – Teil 2

Mit den neuen Sicherheitsanforderungen hat das PCI Security Standard Council ein klares Zeichen gesetzt, wie sensible Daten von Kreditkarteninhaber zu schützen sind. Den Firmen wurde zwar noch eine Schonfrist für die Umsetzung der neuen Anforderungen bis zum 1. Februar 2018 gewährt wird, die entsprechenden Weichen dafür sollten aber bereits heute gestellt werden. Erfahren Sie, wie eine effektive und starke Authentifizierungs-Stratgie Ihnen hilft, das Passwort-Problem zu lösen und compliant zu bleiben.

Im ersten Teil meines Blogs zum neuen Sicherheitsstandard PCI DSS 3.2 berichtete ich über die geänderten Sicherheitsanforderungen, die den konsequenten Einsatz einer Multi-Faktor-Authentifizierung für Administratoren bei Banken, Händler und alle anderen, die mit Kreditkarten arbeiten, nun zwingend vorschreibt. Auch wenn den Firmen noch eine Schonfrist für die Umsetzung der neuen Anforderungen bis zum 1. Februar 2018 gewährt wird, sollten bereits heute die entsprechenden Weichen dafür gestellt werden. Es gibt eine Vielzahl von Herstellern, die unterschiedliche Multi-Faktor-Authentifizierungsverfahren anbieten, und die Anzahl der Authentifizierungsmethoden wächst rasant weiter. So gab die HSBC Bank in Großbritannien vor kurzem bekannt, dass sie ab Sommer 2016 eine Kombination aus Sprachbiometrie- und Fingerabdruckverfahren für die Authentifizierung beim eBanking für über 15 Millionen Kunden einführen wird.

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Das Ende statischer Passwörter und einfacher Pins… es gibt bessere Lösungen für eine sichere Zukunft

Die Authentifizierung, die den Zugriff auf das eigene Bankkonto ermöglicht, erfolgt dann per Smartphone, Stimmen-ID und Fingerabdruck. Innovative Hard- und Software ermöglicht eine eindeutige Identifizierung der Stimme anhand von mehr als 100 Merkmalen, wie beispielsweise Schnelligkeit, Betonung und Rhythmus – auch im Falle einer Erkältung! Ein anderes interessantes Verfahren, an welchem Micro Focus und Nymi derzeit arbeiten, ist die Authentifizierung über den eigenen Herzschlag. Hierfür legt sich der Nutzer ein Armband an, welches den Herzschlag per EKG auswertet und individuelle Muster erkennt und prüft.

Jedes Unternehmen hat unterschiedliche Anforderungen und Voraussetzungen für die Implementierung solcher MFA-Lösungen, und somit gibt es keine „one-size-fits-all“-Lösung. Unterschiede bestehen vor allem bei der Integrationsfähigkeit mit Remotezugriffsystemen und Cloud-Anwendungen. Wie löst man also das Passwort-Problem am besten?

Eine effektive Authentifizierungs-Strategie

Es gibt drei Kernpunkte, die Unternehmen bei der Planung eines für sie passenden Authentifizierungsverfahren berücksichtigen sollten:

  • Abbildung der Business Policies in modularen Richtlinien – vorhandene Richtlinien sollten wiederverwendbar, aktualisierbar und auch auf mobile Endgeräte erweiterbar sein. Das erleichtert die Verwaltung der Zugriffskontrolle für die IT-Sicherheit, da der Zugriff für das Gerät dann im Falle eines Sicherheitsvorfalls schnell entzogen werden kann.
  • Verbesserte Nutzbarkeit mobiler Plattformen. Einige Legacy-Applikationen verwenden zwar ein Web-Interface, sind jedoch weder für den mobilen Zugriff noch für regelmäßige Aktualisierungen ausgelegt. Die Verwendung von Single-Sign-On (SSO) Mechanismen für native und Web-Applikationen kann hier durchaus hilfreich sein.
  • Flexibler Einsatz unterschiedlichster Authentifizierungsmechanismen für ein angemessenes Gleichgewicht zwischen Sicherheitsanforderungen, betrieblicher Handlungsfähigkeit und Benutzerfreundlichkeit. Das Authentifizierungsverfahren sollte immer genau dem jeweils erforderlichen Schutzniveau anpassbar sein. Unterschiedliche Benutzer oder Situationen erfordern unterschiedliche Authentifizierungen – die verwendete Methode muss sowohl zur Rolle als auch zur Situation des Benutzers passen.

Die Planung eines für sie passenden Multi-Faktor-Authentifizierungsverfahren sollten Unternehmen jedoch nicht nur am Status Quo ihrer Anforderungen ausrichten, der Blick sollte sich auch auf zukünftige Bedürfnisse richten. Zu berücksichtigen sind insbesondere die zentrale Verwaltung und Steuerung von Benutzern und Endpunkten, sowie die TCO, und ob neue Anforderungen wie Cloud Services und Mobile Devices über das gleiche MFA-Produkt ohne weitere Add-on Module abgesichert werden können.

Thomas Hofmann

Systems Engineer – Micro Focus Switzerland

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The Cloud: small step not quantum leap

Ed Airey, Solutions Marketing Director for our COBOL and mainframe products, looks at how the right technology can take the enterprise into the Cloud – and how one customer is already getting great results.

We have often used the Micro Focus blog to consider the next wave of disruptive technology; what it is and what it means for the enterprise.

We have looked at mobile technology and the far-reaching aspects of phenomena such as BYOD. Enterprise customers running mature, well-established tech have managed all of these with varying degrees of success.

The key to linking older, COBOL applications with more contemporary customer must-haves, such as web, mobile and Internet of Things apps, is using an enabling technology to help make that transition.

The Cloud is often thought of as synonymous with new companies running modern infrastructures. The default target profile would be a recent start-up using contemporary tech and delivery processes. They can set up in the Cloud and harness the power of on-demand infrastructure from the get-go.

But what about…

The enterprise, however, looks very different. Its business-critical business systems run on traditional, on-premise hardware and software environments – how can it adapt to Cloud computing? And what of business leaders concerned about cost, speed to market, or maximizing the benefits of SaaS? Where can developers looking to support business-critical applications alongside modern tech make the incremental step to virtual or Cloud environments?

Micro Focus technology can make this quantum leap a small step and help organizations running business-critical COBOL applications maximize the opportunity to improve flexibility and scale without adding cost.

Visual COBOL is the enabler

With the support of the right technology, COBOL applications can do more than the original developers ever thought possible. The advent of the mobile banking app proves that COBOL apps can adapt to new environments.

Visual COBOL is that technology and application virtualization is the first step for organizations making the move to the Cloud. A virtually-deployed application can help the enterprise take the step into the Cloud, improve flexibility and increase responsiveness to future demand. It can help even the most complex application profiles.

Modernization in action

Trasmediterranea Acciona is a leading Spanish corporation and operates in many verticals, including infrastructures, energy, water, and services, in more than 30 countries.

Their mainframe underpinned their ticketing and boarding application services, including COBOL batch processes and CICS transactions. Although efficient, increasing costs and wider economic concerns in Spain made the mainframe a costly option that prevented further investment in the applications and the adoption of new technologies.

Virtualization enables enterprises to prepare their applications for off-site hosted infrastructure environments, such as Microsoft Azure. It is a simple first stage of a modernization strategy that will harness smart technology, enabling organizations to leverage COBOL applications without rewriting current code.

Using the Micro Focus Visual COBOL solution certainly helped Acconia, who worked with Micro Focus technology partner Microsoft Consulting Services to port their core COBOL applications and business rules to .NET and Azure without having to rewrite their code.

As Acconia later commented, “We can reuse our critical COBOL application … [this was] the lowest risk route in taking this application to the Cloud. Making our core logistics application available under Microsoft Azure … has not only dramatically reduced our costs, but it also helps position our applications in a more agile, modern architecture for the future”.

And as the evidence grows that more enterprises than ever are looking at the Cloud, it is important that their ‘first steps’ do not leave you behind.

Find out more here www.microfocus.com/cloud

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