Trying to Transform (Part 2): the 420 million mph rate of change

Introduction

Organizations continually have to innovate to match the marketplace-driven rate of change. Readers of the Micro Focus blogsite know that I’m continually banging this drum. The issue seems relentless. Some even refer to tsunamis. But how fast is it?

An article from a recent edition of the UK Guardian newspaper attempted to gauge what the pace of change actually is, using the tried and tested motoring analogy. Here’s a quote.

If a 1971 car had improved at the same rate as computer chips, then 2015 models would have had top speeds of about 420 million mph. Before the end of 2017 models that go twice as fast again will arrive in showrooms.” Still trying to keep up? Good luck with that.

Of course this is taking Moore’s law to a slightly dubious conclusion. However, the point holds that the clamour for change, the need for constant reinvention, innovation and improvement, that’s not letting up any time soon.

The slow need not apply

But how quickly an organisation can achieve the innovation needed to compete in the digitally-enabled marketplace may depend on the IT infrastructure. Clearly, innovation is easier for funky, smaller start-ups with no core systems or customer data to worry about to drag along with them. But the established enterprise needn’t be left in the slow lane. Indeed look at some of the astonishing advances in mainframe performance and any nagging concern that it can’t support today’s business quickly dissipates.

Meanwhile, innovation through smart software can improve speed, efficiency, collaboration, and customer engagement. With the help of the right enabling technology, mainframe and other large organizations can match external digital disruption with their brand of innovation. Because innovation isn’t any one thing, and therefore the solution must be as comprehensive as the challenge. So what’s the secret to getting the enterprise up to speed? The answer for many is digital transformation.

Digital what?

OK, Digital Transformation may be neologism rather than accepted parlance, the term is common enough that Gartner get it and it has its own wiki definition:

“Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society”

Our customers have told us they are trying to transform, and while they have different ideas about what digital transformation means to them, Micro Focus is very clear about what it means to us.

Digital transformation is how we help keep our mainframe and enterprise customers competitive in a digital world. It can either be tangible, like a better mobile app, a better web interface on to a core system, getting into new markets quicker, ensuring a better overall customer experience, or simply doing things better to answer the challenges posed by the digital economy.

For us, the future is a place where to keep up with change, organizations will need to change the way everything happens. And for IT, that’s Building smarter systems even faster, continuing to Operate them carefully and efficiently, while keeping the organization’s systems and data, especially the critical mainframe-based information, Secure, these are the things that matter to the CIO, not to mention the rest of the executive team.

This is the practical, business incarnation of innovation, but to us the solution is as smart as it is efficient: realizing new value from old. Squeezing extra organizational benefit through increased efficiency, agility and cost savings from the data and business logic you already own. The pace of change is accelerating, so why opt for a standing start? We suggest you use what is, quite literally, already running.

Talking Transformation

Your digital story is your own journey, but the conversation is hotting up. Hear more by joining us at an upcoming event. Taste the Micro Focus flavor of innovation at the upcoming SHARE event. Or join us at the forthcoming Micro Focus #Summit2017.

Digital transformation – buzzword or business opportunity?

Digital transformation is what analysts, tech vendors and IT professionals call the latest move towards business innovation.

As this blog explains, organizations are finding that their digital strategy is increasingly being driven by changing market events – digital disruption – and the desire to improve the customer experience (CX) by better understanding how they engage with their products and services.

There will be no turning back. As Accenture research discovered, more than 65% of consumers rely on digital channels for product and service selection, speed and information accuracy, with the same percentage judging companies primarily on the quality of their customer experience. And expectations have never been higher.

Keep the (digital) customer satisfied

Digital technologies such as web, mobile, Cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) have changed the way we live our personal lives and how we engage with businesses. Gartner predicts that this year will see more than half of the world’s population become digital subscribers and fuel expectations of easily consumed, tailor-made content, to be available on-demand and accessible from their device of choice.

It’s not something companies can get wrong. Organizations will probably be aware that more than 80% of the customers who switched to more digitally-savvy competitors could have been retained with a better digital experience. So who is best prepared for the new world of digital natural selection?

Smaller IT shops, born of new technology and running flexible processes, have a clear advantage. Better prepared to leverage consumer feedback in creating and delivering more focused products, faster, they can use disruption to challenge established incumbents. Across the sectors, from medical to manufacturing, entrenched enterprises are being left behind by the pace of change.

COBOL in the digital world?

In the new, shiny world of digitalization, systems of record written in COBOL are viewed as obstacles to progress, to faster delivery and new innovation. So what are the options for businesses with decades of IT investment and a new CIO directive to suddenly shift to a digital-first strategy?

When transforming any aspect of a business, whether it’s a single application or process, or the wider culture, business leaders must begin with a clear understanding of what ‘digital’ success looks like to that organization. CIOs, IT Managers, and dev teams have different definitions – some are strategic, others more tactical – and some are more concerned with the purely practical. However the imperative to improve the customer experience is paramount. Intuitive, content-rich, adaptive to new technologies and easily accessed, the CX should modify business behavior towards a customer-first approach.

Digital – the new frontier for business

The customer experience underpins digital transformation and improves business productivity. New hires with access to a better, faster, more intuitive application experience need less training and have more time for customers. In this world, every business is a software organization that creates a USP – a clear differentiator – using unique, software-generated ‘experiences’ for the end user. In this definition, success is building enduring customer loyalty and using it to access new markets.

But what about longer-established enterprise shops running COBOL? Where can their products take them? There’s good news. Micro Focus remains committed to a strong technology roadmap, supported by millions of R&D dollars, focused on innovation and customer success. Creating and refreshing technology solutions that enable the enterprise to reinvent their IT assets for the new reality remains a core tenet and guiding principle. And here’s the proof.

Drum roll, please

Say hello to a new UI transformation solution for ACUCOBOL customers—AcuToWeb®. With the latest version of extend® (v10.1) and AcuToWeb, organizations can instantly transform their COBOL applications by enabling browser access across multiple platforms.

Rapid, Reliable: How System z can be the best of both

Background – BiModal Woes

I’ve spent a good deal of time speaking with IT leaders in mainframe shops around the world. A theme I keep hearing again and again is “We need to speed up our release cycles”.

It often emerges that one of the obstacles to accelerating the release process is the differences in release tools and practices between the mainframe and distributed application development teams. Over time many mainframe shops converged on a linear, hierarchical release and deployment model (often referred to as the Waterfall model). Software modifications are performed in a shared development environment, and promoted (copied) through progressively restrictive test environments before being moved into production (deployment). Products such as Micro Focus Serena Changeman zMF and CA Endevor® automate part of this approach. While seemingly cumbersome in today’s environment, this approach evolved because it has shown, over the decades, to provide the required degree of security and reliability for sensitive data and business rules that the business demands.

But, the software development landscape continues to evolve. As an example, a large Financial Services customer came to us recently and told us of the difficulty they are starting to have with coordinating releases of their mainframe and distributed portfolios using a leading mainframe solution: CA Endevor®. They told us: “it’s a top down hierarchical model with code merging at the end – our inefficient tooling and processes do not allow us to support the volume of parallel development we need”.

What is happening is that in distributed shops, newer, less expensive technologies have emerged that can support parallel development and other newer, agile practices. These new capabilities enable organizations to build more flexible business solutions, and new means of engaging with customers, vendors and other third parties. These solutions have grown up mostly outside of the mainframe environment, but they place new demands for speed, flexibility, and access to the mainframe assets that continue to run the business.

Proven Assets, New Business Opportunities

The increasing speed and volume of these changes to the application portfolio mean that the practice of 3, 6 or 12 month release cycles is giving way to demands for daily or hourly releases. It is not uncommon for work to take place on multiple updates to an application simultaneously. This is a cultural change that is taking place across the industry. “DevOps” applies to practices that enable an organization to use agile development and continuous release techniques, where development and operations operate in near synchrony.

This is where a bottleneck has started to appear for some mainframe shops. The traditional serial, hierarchical release processes and tools don’t easily accommodate newer practices like parallel development and continuous test and release.

As we know, most organizations with mainframes also use them to safeguard source code and build scripts along with the binaries. This is considered good practice, and is usually followed for compliance, regulatory or due diligence reasons. So the mainframe acts as not only the production environment, but also as the formal source code repository for the assets in production.

The distributed landscape has long had solutions that support agile development. So as the demand to incorporate Agile practices the logical next step would be to adopt these solutions for the mainframe portfolio. IBM Rational Team Concert and Compuware’s ISPW take this approach. The problem with these approaches is that adopting these solutions implies that mainframe developers must adopt practices they are relatively unfamiliar with, incur the expense of migrating from existing tried and trusted mainframe SCM processes to unknown and untested solutions, and disrupt familiar and effective practices.

Why Not Have it Both Ways?

So, the question is, how can mainframe shops add modern practices to their mainframe application delivery workflow, without sacrificing the substantial investment and familiarity of the established mainframe environment?

Micro Focus has the answer. As part of the broader Micro Focus Enterprise solution, we’ve recently introduced the Enterprise Sync product. Enterprise Sync allows developers to seamlessly extend the newer practices of distributed tools – parallel development, automatic merges, visual version trees, and so forth, and to the mainframe while preserving the established means for release and promotion.

Enterprise Sync establishes an automatic and continuous two-way synchronization between your mainframe CA Endevor® libraries and your distributed SCM repositories. Changes made in one environment instantly appear in the other, and in the right place in the workflow. This synchronization approach allows the organization to adopt stream-based parallel development and preserve the existing CA Endevor® model that has worked well over the decades, in the same way that the rest of the Micro Focus’ development and mainframe solutions help organizations preserve and extend the value of their mainframe assets.

With Enterprise Sync, multiple developers work simultaneously on the same file, whether stored in a controlled mainframe environment or in the distributed repository. Regardless, Enterprise Sync automates the work of merging, reconciling and annotating any conflicting changes it detects.

This screenshot from a live production environment show a typical mainframe production hierarchy represented as streams in the distributed SCM. Work took place in parallel on two separate versions of the same asset. The versions were automatically reconciled, merged and promoted to the TEST environment by Enterprise Sync. This hierarchical representation of the existing environment structure should look and feel familiar to the mainframe developers, which should make Enterprise Sync relatively simple to adopt

It is the automatic, real time synchronization between the mainframe and distributed environments without significant modification to either that makes Enterprise Sync a uniquely effective solution to the increasing problem of coordinating releases of mainframe and distributed assets.

By making Enterprise Sync part of a DevOps solution, customers can get the best of both worlds: layering on modern practices to the proven, reliable mainframe SCM solution, and implementing an environment that supports parallel synchronized deployment, with no disruption to the mainframe workflow. Learn more here or download our datasheet.

Trying to Transform

Here’s an interesting statistic. According to a report, only 61 of the Fortune 500 top global companies have remained on that illustrious list since 1955. That’s only 12%. It’s not unreasonable to extrapolate that 88% of the Fortune 500 of 2075 will be different again. That’s over 400 organizations that won’t stand the test of time.

What do such sobering prospects mean for the CEO of most major corporations? Simple – innovation. Innovation and transformation are the relentless treadmill of change and the continuous quest for differentiation. These are what an organization will need for a competitive edge in the future.

But in this digital economy, what does transformation look like?

Time for Change

Key findings from a recent report (the 2016 State of Digital Transformation, by research and consulting firm Altimeter) shared the following trends affecting organizational digital transformation:

  • Customer experience is the top driver for change
  • A majority of respondents see the catalyst for change as evolving customer behaviour and preference. A great number still see that as a significant challenge
  • Nearly half saw a positive result on business as a result of digital transformation
  • Four out of five saw innovation as top of the digital transformation initiatives

Much of this is echoed by a study The Future of Work commissioned by Google.

The three most prevalent outcomes of adopting “digital technologies” were cited as

  • Improving customer experience
  • Improving internal communication
  • Enhancing internal productivity

More specifically, the benefits experienced of adopting digital technology were mentioned as

  • Responding faster to changing needs
  • Optimizing business processes
  • Increasing revenue and profits

Meanwhile, the report states that the digital technologies that are perceived as having the most future impact were a top five of Cloud, Tablets, Smartphones, Social Media and Mobile Apps.

So, leveraging new technology, putting the customer first, and driving innovation seem all to connect together to yield tangible benefits for organizations that are seeking to transform themselves. Great.

But it’s not without its downside. None of this, alas, is easy. Let’s look at some of the challenges cited the same study, and reflect on how they could be mitigated.

More Than Meets The Eye?

Seamlessly changing to support a new business model or customer experience is easy to conceive. We’ve all seen the film Transformers, right? But in practical, here-and-now IT terms, this is not quite so simple. What are the challenges?

The studies cited a few challenges: let’s look at some of them.

Challenge: What exactly is the customer journey?

In the studies, while a refined customer experience was seen as key, 71% saw understanding that behaviour as a major challenge. Unsurprisingly, only half had mapped out the customer journey. More worrying is that a poor digital customer experience means, over 90% of the time, unhappy customers won’t complain – but they will not return. (Source: www.returnonbehaviour.com ).

Our View: The new expectation of the digitally-savvy customer is all important in both B2C and B2B. Failure to assess, determine, plan, build and execute a renewed experience that maps to the new customer requirement is highly risky. That’s why Micro Focus’ Build story incorporates facilities to map, define, implement and test against all aspects of the customer experience, to maximize the success rates of newly-available apps or business services.

Challenge: Who’s doing this?

The studies also showed an ownership disparity. Some of the digital innovation is driven from the CIO’s organization (19%), some from the CMO (34%), and the newly-emerging Chief Digital office (15%) is also getting some of the funding and remit. So who’s in charge and where’s the budget, and is the solution comprehensive? These are all outstanding questions in an increasingly siloed digital workplace.

Our View: While organizationally there may be barriers, the culture of collaboration and inclusiveness can be reinforced by appropriate technology. Technology provides both visibility and insight into objectives, tasks, issues, releases and test cases, not to mention the applications themselves. This garners a stronger tie between all stakeholder groups, across a range of technology platforms, as organizations seek to deliver faster.

Challenge: Are we nimble enough?

Rapid response to new requirements hinges on how fast, and frequently, an organization can deliver new services. Fundamentally, it requires an agile approach – yet 63% saw a challenge in their organization being agile enough. Furthermore, the new DevOps paradigm is not yet the de-facto norm, much as many would want it to be.

Our View: Some of the barriers to success with Agile and DevOps boil down to inadequate technology provision, which is easily resolved – Micro Focus’ breadth of capability up and down the DevOps tool-chain directly tackles many of the most recognized bottlenecks to adoption, from core systems appdev to agile requirements management. Meanwhile, the culture changes of improved teamwork, visibility and collaboration are further supported by open, flexible technology that ensures everyone is fully immersed in and aware of the new model.

Challenge: Who’s paying?

With over 40% reporting strong ROI results, cost effectiveness of any transformation project remains imperative. A lot of CapEx is earmarked and there needs to be an ROI. With significant bottom line savings seen by a variety of clients using its technology, Micro Focus’ approach is always to plan how such innovation will pay for itself in the shortest possible timeframe.

Bridge Old and New

IT infrastructure and how it supports an organization’s business model is no longer the glacial, lumbering machine it once could be. Business demands rapid response to change. Whether its building new customer experiences, establishing and operating new systems and devices, or ensuring clients and the corporation protect key data and access points, Micro Focus continues to invest to support today’s digital agenda.

Of course, innovation or any other form of business transformation will take on different forms depending on the organization, geography, industry and customer base, and looks different to everyone we listen to. What remains true for all is that the business innovation we offer our customers enables them to be more efficient, to deliver new products and services, to operate in new markets, and to deepen their engagement with their customers.

Transforming? You better be. If so, talk to us, or join us at one of our events soon.

Extra! Extra! Extra! Reflecting on Terminal Emulation

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, there are over a dozen vendors selling terminal emulation solutions that allow millions of users to access their mainframe computer systems. Micro Focus is one of these companies, and our mainframe emulators offer security, flexibility, productivity, and Windows 10 certification. Well, most of them do. But before I elaborate on that point, let’s assume that you’re not yet on Windows 10.

Did you know that you could be forced to move to Windows 10 whether you like it or not? Yeah. Microsoft has announced that the latest generation of Intel chips will not support anything less than Windows 10. So, if you buy a new PC for a new hire or as a replacement for a broken or obsolete system, it will be running Windows 10 and chances are high that it cannot be downgraded no matter what Microsoft licenses you have. So unless you have a closet full of systems ready to deploy, you’ll  want to be ready for the Windows 10 upgrade—even if you don’t want to make the move. (But don’t worry; Micro Focus also offers Windows 10 migration tools to help you on your journey – whether or not you are using terminal emulation software.)

Make the Move

Okay, so let’s get back to that terminal emulator thing. Like I said in that same earlier blog, most of our mainframe emulators are completely up to date when it comes to the latest security standards like TLS 1.2 and SHA-2 along with data masking – which are required by the Payment Card Industry (PCI DSS). But even if you are not subject to PCI rules, implementing the latest security standards are just common sense to help mitigate hacking opportunities. We’ve also been hard at work certifying our terminal emulators for Windows 10 compatibility. Well most of them anyway.

Micro Focus has announced publicly that Extra! X-treme won’t be making the move to Windows 10, and older versions of Extra! X-treme do not support the latest and greatest security standards. But we have an offer for you that you can’t refuse. Well, I suppose you can refuse…but why would you want to?

Migration is Easy

We are offering most of our customers a no-charge migration path to Reflection Desktop, our state-of-the-art terminal emulator. Reflection Desktop was designed and developed by many of the same people behind Extra! so of course they know how to implement many of Extra’s best features, while providing a modern terminal emulator that will work now and into the future.

We have designed Reflection Desktop to have an upgrade experience similar to Microsoft Office applications:

  • The Reflection Desktop Classic Interface eliminates the need for retraining end users.
  • Extra! configuration settings will work as is in Reflection Desktop (Keyboard Maps, Hot Spots, Colors, Quickpads).
  • Reflection Desktop will run Extra! Basic macros with no conversion

And to increase security and enhance productivity, Reflection Desktop offers:

  • Trusted locations, which enable you to secure and control where macros are launched from while still allowing users to record and use them as needed.
  • Privacy Filters that allow you to mask sensitive data on mainframe screens without making changes on the host.
  • Visual Basic for Applications support (documentation), giving you better integration with Microsoft Office.
  • Support for the latest Microsoft .Net APIs allowing for more secure and robust customizations.
  • HLLAPI integration allowing you to continue using these applications without rewriting them.

If you still need help with your migration, guidance is available on how to inventory and migrate customizations. And Micro Focus Consulting Services have proven methodologies and experience with successful enterprise migrations. In fact, several of our customers have had successful migrations from Extra! to Reflection Desktop, one of which is detailed here. PS: This global financial firm actually migrated to Reflection Desktop not only from Extra! but also from a handful of terminal emulators from different companies.

Summary

We talked about Windows 10 and up-to-date security, which are important reasons to move to a modern, secure terminal emulator. In fact, there is another driver: Management.

This final driver ties everything together. You have to ensure that your terminal emulation environment is properly configured and that your users are prevented from making changes that can leave you open to hacking or, perhaps worse, allow them to steal critical information.

Reflection is fully integrated with the Micro Focus Host Access Management and Security Server (MSS). Besides helping you to lock down your emulation environment, MSS also lets you extend your organization’s existing identity, authentication, and management system to your mainframe and other host systems.

And there you have it. A modern, secure terminal emulator that will make you ready for Microsoft’s latest operating system, help lock down your mainframes from unauthorized users, and best of all, existing Extra! customers who have maintained licenses can get it for free.

We Built This City on…DevOps

With a history that is more industrial than inspirational, a few eyebrows were raised when Hull won the bid to become the UK’s city of culture for 2017. While unlikely, it is now true, and the jewel of East Riding is boasting further transformation as it settles in to its new role as the cultural pioneer for the continent.  Why not? After all, cultures change, attitudes change. People’s behaviour, no matter what you tell them to do, will ultimately decide outcomes. Or, as Peter Drucker put it, Culture eats Strategy for breakfast.

As we look ahead to other cultural changes in 2017, the seemingly ubiquitous DevOps approach looks like a change that has already made it to the mainstream.

But there remains an open question about whether implementing DevOps is really a culture shift in IT, or whether it’s more of a strategic direction. Or, indeed, whether it’s a bit of both. I took a look at some recent industry commentary to try to unravel whether a pot of DevOps culture would indeed munch away on a strategic breakfast.

A mainstream culture?

Recently, I reported that Gartner predicted about 45% of the enterprise IT world were on a DevOps trajectory. 2017 could be, statistically at least, the year when DevOps goes mainstream. That’s upheaval for a lot of organizations.

We’ve spoken before about the cultural aspects of DevOps transformation: in a recent blog I outlined three fundamental tenets of embracing the necessary cultural tectonic shift required for larger IT organizations to embrace DevOps:

  • Stakeholder Management

Agree the “end game” of superior new services and customer satisfaction with key sponsors, and outline that DevOps is a vehicle to achieve that. Articulated  in today’s digital age it is imperative that the IT team (the supplier) seeks to engage more frequently with their users.

  • Working around Internal Barriers

Hierarchies are hard to break down, and a more nimble approach is often to establish cross-functional teams to take on specific projects that are valuable to the business, but relatively finite in scope, such that the benefits of working in a team-oriented approach become self-evident quickly. Add to this the use of internal DevOps champions to espouse and explain the overall approach.

  • Being Smart with Technology

There are a variety of technical solutions available to improving development, testing and efficiency of collaboration for mainframe teams. Hitherto deal-breaking delays and bottlenecks caused by older procedures and even older tooling can be removed simply by being smart about what goes into the DevOps tool-chain. Take a look at David Lawrence’s excellent review of the new Micro Focus technology to support better configuration and delivery management of mainframe applications.

In a recent blog, John Gentry talked about the “Culture Shift” foundational to a successful DevOps adoption. The SHARE EXECUForum 2016 show held a round-table discussion specifically about the cultural changes required for DevOps. Culture clearly matters. However, these and Drucker’s pronouncements notwithstanding, culture is only half the story.

Strategic Value?

The strategic benefit of DevOps is critical. CIO.com recently talked about how DevOps can help “redefine IT strategy”. After all, why spend all that time on cultural upheaval without a clear view of the resultant value?

In another recent article, the key benefits of DevOps adoption were outlined as

  • Fostering Genuine Collaboration inside and outside IT
  • Establishing End-to-End automation
  • Delivering Faster
  • Establishing closer ties with the user

Elsewhere, an overtly positive piece by Automic gave no fewer than 10 good reasons to embrace DevOps, including fostering agility, saving costs, turning failure into continuous improvement, removing silos, find issues more quickly and building a more collaborative environment.

How such goals become measurable metrics isn’t made clear by the authors, but the fact remains that most commentators see significant strategic value in DevOps. Little wonder that this year’s session agenda at SHARE includes a track called DevOps in the Enterprise, while the events calendar for 2017 looks just as busy again with DevOps shows.

Make It Real

So far that’s a lot of talk and not a lot of specific detail. Changing organizational culture is so nebulous as to be almost indefinable – shifting IT culture toward a DevOps oriented approach covers a multitude of factors in terms of behaviour, structure, teamwork, communication and technology it’s worthy of studies in its own right.  Strategically, transforming IT to be a DevOps shop requires significant changes in flexibility, efficiency and collaboration between teams, as well as an inevitable refresh in the underlying tool chain, as it is often referred.

To truly succeed at DevOps, one has to look and the specific requirements and desired outcomes:  being able to work out specifically, tangibly and measurably what is needed, and how it can be achieved, is critical. Without this you have a lot of change and little clarity on whether it does any good.

Micro Focus’ recent white paper “From Theory to Reality” (download here) discusses the joint issues of cultural and operational change as enterprise-scale IT shops look to gain benefits from adopting a DevOps model. It cites three real customer situations where each has tackled a specific situation in its own way, and the results of doing so.

Learn More

Each organization’s DevOps journey will be different, and must meet specific internal needs. Why not join Micro Focus at the upcoming SHARE, DevDay or #MFSummit2017 shows to hear for how major IT organizations are transforming how they deliver value through DevOps, with the help of Micro Focus technology.

If you want to build an IT service citadel of the future, it had better be on something concrete. Talk to Micro Focus to find out how.

Twin peaks: #MFSummit2017

Like scaling a mountain, sometimes it makes sense to stop and see how far you have come, and what lies ahead. #MFSummit2017 is your opportunity to check progress and assess the future challenges.

We called the first #MFSummit ‘meeting the challenges of change’ and it’s been another demanding 12 months for Micro Focus customers. Maintaining, or achieving, a competitive advantage in the IT marketplace isn’t getting any easier.

The technology of two recent acquisitions, the development, DevOps and IT management gurus Serena Software and multi-platform unified archive ninjas GWAVA puts exciting, achievable innovation within reach of all our customers. These diverse portfolios are also perfectly in tune with the theme of #MFSummit2017.

Build, Operate, and Secure (BOS)

BOS is the theme of #MFSummit2017 and our overarching ethos. Micro Focus products and solutions help our customers build, operate, and secure IT systems that unite current business logic and applications with emerging technologies to meet increasingly complex business demands and cost pressures.

Delegates to #MFSummit2017 can either focus on the most relevant specialism, the possibilities the other two may offer – or sample all three. This first blog of two focuses on Build.

DevOps – realise the potential

Following keynote addresses from Micro Focus CEO Stephen Murdoch and General Manager, Andy King, Director of Enterprise Solutions Gary Evans presents The Micro Focus Approach to DevOps.

Everyone knows what DevOps is, but what does it mean for those managing enterprise applications?

Gary’s 40-minute slot looks at the potential of DevOps to dramatically increase the delivery rate of new software updates. He explains the Micro Focus approach to DevOps, how it supports Continuous Delivery – and what it means to our customers.

Interested?

Want to know more about this session, or check out the line-up for the Operate and Secure modules – the subject of our next blog? Check out the full agenda here.

Use the same page to reserve your place at #MFSummit2017, a full day of formal presentations and face-to-face sessions, overviews and deep-dive Q&As, all dedicated to helping you understand the full potential of Micro Focus solutions to resolve your business challenges.

Our stylish venue is within easy reach of at least four Tube stations and three major rail stations. Attendance and lunch are free.

If you don’t go, you’ll never know.

Data: Challenge & Opportunity

Data Challenges

Researchers claim that the average smartphone user glances at their device roughly every seven seconds. Do you? It’s an impulse that each of us experiences within our daily lives, whether at the airport, the bank or the shopping mail, but also in workplace. Why is this so? Well, mobile technology has unleashed the power and desire for instant information that’s readily available to all using our device of choice. The mobile economy is underpinned by data. This quest for information, engagement or even entertainment requires instant, readily accessible access to this valuable resource and without it that same mobile experience would be well, not nearly that exciting. But the demand for data is not isolated to those searching for the latest sports scores or for that needed holiday recipe.  Business organizations have the same need to unlock the value of their business data and leverage that information to make smarter decisions leading to new market opportunity. But for many businesses, it’s not quite so simple.  There are a number of challenges that must be addressed.

Many core business systems are written in the COBOL language.  In fact, over 70% of business transaction processing is supported by COBOL technology.  It continues to be the lifeblood of core business applications in the airline, insurance, banking, manufacturing and retail industries as well as a prominent piece of public services IT infrastructure. But unlocking COBOL data is not easy.  Traditional COBOL systems utilize COBOL data files for information access and storage. Retrieving data from these systems requires a knowledge of the COBOL language but also an understanding of the application itself. This creates challenge for an organization that desires to gain real time access to data for business intelligence, analytics or reporting needs. COBOL data is not relational which makes the use of modern tools difficult for analysts and developers, alike.  Applications underpinned by COBOL data files also experience application reliability and serviceability issues. COBOL data files can and often do become corrupted which compromises business continuity and reduces application up-time. Also, even during scheduled application maintenance, application recoverability can be slower than desired. So, how can you overcome these challenges and what are the options?

Options

In an effort to gain easier access to COBOL business applications, some will utilize tools to extract, transform and load data into a new repository. Other options include mirroring the data or creating copies for analytics and data warehousing purposes. The challenge with these options is that the data, itself, is not relational nor available in real-time which means the data is immediately out-of-date. Re-writing these COBOL applications is often considered an option too in order to achieve the benefits of SQL and RDBMS.  Doing so, however, can be risky and costly to the business.  Additionally, the size of the average COBOL application codebase is large and is often measured in millions of lines of code (MLOC) which means the prospect of changing or re-writing these systems to accommodate RDBMS or SQL integration is almost unobtainable for many.  So where do we go from here?

A Better Bridge – For the Old and the New

There’s a better path to achieve the benefits of SQL and RDBMS without application code change. For business analysts and end users seeking to gain real-time access to relational data or create custom reports without the assistance of the development team, a new data modernization toolset enables you to utilize modern, off-the-shelf reporting tools such as Excel or Crystal Reports to access existing COBOL application data with ease. And for developers and technical teams seeking to utilize the power of SQL alongside modern RDBMS platforms to improve application uptime or reliability, a supplemental toolset is available to bridge existing COBOL business applications to relational database management platforms, including SQLServer, Oracle IBM DB2 and PostgreSQL.  With these solutions, organizations can unlock the power of business data, enabling all to make smarter decisions that drive opportunity and new digital business.

New Solutions

Today, Micro Focus is delighted to announce a new innovation- a set of data modernization solutions to enable analysts, developers and management teams to better align their core systems of record with modern relational database management technology. With Relativity and Database Connectors, you’ll have the ability to unlock the value of business application data and leverage the power of SQL and RDMBS to gain access to business information, improve application reliability and better manage RDMBS costs while expanding application usage. To learn more about these new and exciting tools and how to get started on your own journey to data modernization, we encourage you schedule a complimentary value profile meeting with us. During this consultation, we’ll examine your business and technical goals and help align your data modernization needs to solutions that meet your objectives. As the demand for data only continues to rise, fueled by digital business and the mobile economy, we must find new and innovative ways to leverage core business systems to unlock both the power of data and the competitive advantage that it delivers.  Click here to learn more and get started with this complimentary service offering.

Are We There Yet?

Digital transformation demands that every IT shop find new ways to move faster and reach their customers with new innovative solutions. Getting new code to market quicker than the competition requires smart tools and intuitive integration to enable faster delivery. Ed Airey explores the new Micro Focus COBOL Analyzer product offering and its capacity to help developers and analysts deliver on this promise.

Every Journey Needs a Map

‘Are we there yet?’ 

A familiar family question heard on most long distance car trips.  A question that’s also difficult to answer, particularly when some drivers, despite better guidance, go off the beaten track.  The increasing mobile use and popularity of satellite navigation (or GPS) technology, has made answering this question a bit easier in recent years. Assuming you listen to the little voice in the box. For those that wait on every wise word and detailed direction, it’s hard to imagine life without GPS. Once you’re used to reliable directions that get you there, every time, why would you take a different path or use a different tool?  The same can be said for application analysis when the right tooling is used.

Actionable Insight
Actionable Insight

The Code Analysis Challenge

Less than 10% of developers use application analysis tools on a daily basis, according to a recent analyst study.   As many as 44% use analysis tools on a project-by-project basis, yet we see a continual need in IT to drive greater efficiency, faster time to market and reduce code re-work.  And that’s exactly how these tools can help—to get you to your destination, quickly and reliably, every time – without getting lost!

It’s Time to Take on Digital Transformation

If you, as a developer, could help your team better understand its core business systems, determine where code change need to occur and reduce the amount of re-work that delays code from going live, wouldn’t you jump at that chance? Or as a business analyst or IT manager, if you could easily onboard new talent to your team, improve collaboration between dev and operations teams or improve IT productivity, would you not take that opportunity?  These are the promises of application analysis tools—helping you better understand your business application and manage code change with confidence.

Impact Analysis made simple
Impact Analysis made simple

Introducing COBOL Analyzer

Today, Micro Focus announces a new offering for its COBOL customers—COBOL Analyzer.  The solution enables developers, analysts and IT management better understand the impact of application change.  Using familiar tools, IT teams can gain immediate insight to where changes need to occur, understand how and where those code change should be made and do so with an understanding of their impact across the entire codebase.

Finally, COBOL Analyzer delivers the integrated toolset to accelerate that change with confidence. Only COBOL Analyzer can help you visualize, understand and act on application code change.  Unlike other offerings, COBOL Analyzer is a solution designed for Micro Focus COBOL applications.  For development teams wondering if the last code package passed QA or made it to production. For teams that are pushed to deliver better code, faster, but are unsure if ‘they’re there yet, code analysis tools are your GPS and trusted toolset to help you reach your destination with greater confidence.

Search your code easily
Search your code easily

Give it a Try

And there’s good news.  You can try this new solution for nothing.  To register for your personal copy, visit the COBOL Analyzer product page.  Also, for those that would like to get started quickly, take a look at the community page for more great materials including a 5-part video playlist, code samples and a getting started tutorial. For organizations with Micro Focus COBOL applications, this is your unique opportunity to gain better insight into your business applications, accelerate code change and reach that digital destination.

Ed

A classic never goes out of style

Die digitale Transformation von Geschäftsprozessen sowie die Modernisierung und Optimierung der IT- Infrastruktur lassen die Rufe nach der Ablösung des Mainframe lauter werden. Zudem haftet dem “Dino” der IT ein zunehmend negatives Image an: zu teuer, zu unmodern, zu unflexibel. Doch Fakt ist auch, dass Cobol Anwendungen immer noch großen Einfluss auf unser tägliches Leben haben. Die Flugbuchung, die Sitzplatzreservierung im ICE, das Bezahlen bei Zalando, Amazon & Co. -am Ende ist es fast immer COBOL-Code, der involviert ist. Es stellt sich also die zentrale Frage: Wie kann man bestehende Geschäftsmodelle samt vorhandenen Geschäftsregeln und Applikationen in neue Systeme einbringen, die flexibel, dynamisch und web-orientiert sind? Martin Reusch liefert Antworten…

Vor fast 125 Jahren wurde das Unternehmen Coca Cola in Atlanta gegründet. Trotz des auch für ein Unternehmen stattlichen Alters, ist die Coca Cola alles andere als angestaubt und unmodern. Für Coca Cola, dem Getränk in der unverwechselbaren, bauchigen Kontur-Glasflasche oder der rot-weißen Dose  gelten anscheinend nicht die Regeln des Alterns. Sprachforschern zufolge ist Coca-Cola heute das zweitbekannteste Wort der Welt nach „Okay“, es ist die wertvollste Marke der Welt, denn  Coca Cola ist das auch heute noch das Erfrischungs-Getränk Nummer 1 und das trotz  immer neuer Brausegetränke. Anderes Beispiel – Mythos Porsche 911, seit über 50 Jahren das Herzstück der Marke Porsche. Der erste 911 wurde 1963 auf der IAA in Frankfurt vorgestellt und ist seitdem einfach geblieben, auch wenn das heutige Modell längst nicht mehr mit dem ursprünglichen Original zu vergleichen ist. Denn Porsche hat es stets verstanden, dieses einzigartige Modell durch intelligente Ideen und Technologien, welche Performance, Alltagstauglichkeit, Sicherheit und Nachhaltigkeit verknüpften, immer weiter zu modifizieren.

Auch in der IT gibt es vergleichbare Klassiker. Großrechner, besser als Mainframe bekannt, oder COBOL die Programmiersprache für viele Businessanwendungen, existieren ebenfalls seit Anfang der 60er Jahre. Doch die während ein Klassiker wie der Porsche 911 heute ein Mythos ist und mit positiven Charakteristika wie Wertbeständigkeit, Stilistik und Dynamik verbunden wird, haftet dem Mainframe und seiner beherrschenden Programmiersprache COBOL in der Öffentlichkeit ein zunehmend negatives Image an: die Systeme und Applikationen gelten als veraltet, unmodern, unsicher und deswegen als zu risikoreich, sie aufrechtzuerhalten. Diese eher abwertende Sichtweise wird zudem begünstigt durch neue Technologieansätze wie Big Data, Cloud Computing, Mobile- und Sozial Business Technologien. Trotz des vermeintlichen negativen Stigma verwenden aber nach einer aktuellen Schätzung von IBM immer noch rund 55 Prozent aller weltweiten Enterprise-Anwendungen bei Banken und Versicherungen in der einen oder anderen Weise einen COBOL-Code. Geld am Automaten abheben oder überweisen, bei Amazon, Zalando oder eBay einkaufen – am Ende ist es fast immer COBOL-Code, der die Kontostände ausgleicht. Die Flugbuchung, die Sitzplatzreservierung im ICE etc. – ohne dass wir es merken, haben der Mainframe und seine COBOL-Anwendungen immer noch großen Einfluss auf unser tägliches Leben.

Wachsende Probleme durch Digitale Transformation

Nicht zu leugnen ist aber auch, dass die IT-Industrie gegenwärtig einen rasanten Wandel durchläuft, bei dem gerade die digitale Transformation von Geschäftsprozessen sowie die Modernisierung und Optimierung der IT- Infrastruktur bezogen auf neue Technologietrends wie Mobility, Social Business und BYOD eine zentrale Rolle spielen. Auch wenn die Mainframe-Umgebung als operationskritische Plattform hierbei nach wie eine Rolle spielen kann, stellt die Einführung agiler Entwicklungsmodelle und steigende Anforderungen an die Flexibilität der Hardware bestehende Konzepte vor Probleme, denn an der der stetigen Wartung, Aktualisierung und Weiterentwicklung von systemrelevanten Mainframe-Applikationen führt auch sowohl aus technischer als auch fachlicher Sicht kein Weg vorbei.

klasse2

Viele der Themen sowie der damit verbundenen Herausforderungen sind nicht neu, schließlich beschäftigen sich die IT-Branche  seit der Entwicklung des Internets vor 20 Jahren bereits mit dem Prozess der Digitalisierung und den Folgen, die sie hervorruft. Neu ist hingegen ist die Geschwindigkeit, mit der die teils disruptiven neuen Technologien wie Mobility und Connectivity, Cloud Computing, Sozial Media und Big Data Analytics, neue Geschäftsmodelle, Prozesse und Wertschöpfungsketten entstehen lassen. Bedenkt man dann noch, dass ehemalige Start-ups wie Amazon, Google, Spotify, ebay oder booking.com, die ohne die Zwänge historisch gewachsener Unternehmenskulturen und Strukturen agil neue Geschäftsmodelle in einem etablierten Markt platzieren und als branchenfremde Unternehmen in die Märkte der etablierten Platzhirsche eindringen, wird schnell klar, dass die Letztgenannten und ihre IT-Abteilungen unter starkem Zwang stehen, ihr unternehmerisches Handeln zu überdenken, und ihre bestehenden Geschäftsmodelle den sich verändernden Erwartungen, Bedürfnissen und Verhaltensschema der Kunden anzupassen und weiterzuentwickeln.

Zwangsläufig stellt sich dabei dann immer wieder die zentrale Frage: Wie kann man bestehende Geschäftsmodelle samt vorhandenen Geschäftsregeln und Applikationen in neue Systeme einbringen, die flexibel, dynamisch und web-orientiert sind?

Die Unternehmensführung erwartet von der IT, dass die Business Applikationen nicht mehr isoliert voneinander ablaufen, sondern das Produktion, betriebliche Abläufe und Kunden in einer einzelnen, integrierten Lösung in die Wertschöpfungskette eingebunden werden. Die Fertigung möchte spezifisch auf den Kundenwunsch abgestimmt produzieren, das Marketing will personalisierte Produktempfehlungen abgeben und viele Unternehmen bereiten sich zudem auf die Herausforderungen durch die Industrie 4.0 vor, die beispielsweise vorausschauende Wartung ermöglicht. Dazu müssen allerdings die unterschiedlichen Backend-Systeme wie die Kundendatenbank und das Enterprise Resource Planning, die Analyse-Tools im Marketing und das SAP miteinander verknüpft sein.

In vielen Unternehmen hingegen ist die IT ist im Laufe der Jahre zu einer technologisch heterogenen Applikationslandschaft herangewachsen, die zwar immer wieder aktualisiert, ergänzt und erweitert – mit den unterschiedlichsten Technologien – von COBOL, Microsoft VB, Java oder C# bis hin zu Standardpaketen wie SAP. Doch eben diese verschiedenen Technologien verhindern oftmals den Aufbau eines integrierten Systems. Es existiert ein Mosaik an Applikationen mit einer Vielzahl von Anwendungen, Datenbanken und komplexen Schnittstellen, die Prozessstörungen verursachen können.

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Revolution vs. Evolution – welcher Ansatz ist der Richtige?

Wie modernisiert man nun also seine Applikationslandschaft – verfolgt man den revolutionären Ansatz mit einer kompletten Neuentwicklung oder der Einführung von Standardapplikationen, oder ist eine evolutionäre Anwendungsmodernisierung der eigenen Individualsoftware der bessere Weg?

Die radikale Lösung mit einer kompletten Neuentwicklung einer über Jahrzehnte gewachsenen Kernapplikation, die einen Millionenwert an fachlicher Businesslogik darstellt? Dazu fehlen selbst Banken die Zeit und die Ressourcen, außerdem sind mit einem solchen Vorgehen viele Risiken und immense Kosten verbunden. Der Umstieg z.B. auf ein neues Core-Banking System im Bankenbereich kann ohne weiteres Kosten im zweistelligen Millionenbereich Bereich nach sich ziehen, angesichts immer knapper werdender IT-Budgets und wachsendem Zeitdruck keine wirkliche Alternative.

Eine wesentlich kostengünstigerer und auch sicherer Weg ist die Anwendungsmodernisierung unternehmenskritischer Applikationen, bei dem dank einer evolutionären Vorgehensweise nicht nur der Wert der Anwendung erhalten wird, sondern diese kontinuierlich mit der geforderten Flexibilität und Agilität weiter entwickelt und optimiert wird.

Aufgrund unterschiedlicher Modernisierungsansätze, sollten zunächst die Ziele, die man erreichen will, genau formuliert werden:

  • Kosteneinsparungen

Durch einen Umstieg auf kostengünstigere Plattformen und den Einsatz von Open-Source-Technologien lassen sich Betriebskosten signifikant reduzieren – in der Spitze um über 70 Prozent.

  • Produktivität & Time-to-Market

Mithilfe moderner Entwicklungsumgebungen und entsprechender Tools (bspw. Versions- Test- und Releasemanagement) kann die Produktivität gesteigert und gleichzeitig das Risiko minimiert werden. Das fördert eine schnellere Umsetzung neuer Ideen und stellt die Akzeptanz der Nutzer sicher.

  • Wiederverwendbarkeit & Zukunftsfähigkeit vorhandener COBOL Anwendungen

Operative Betriebsrisiken minimieren sich z.B. in Bezug auf Know-how, Technologie, Sicherheitslücken und Kosten. Aktuelle technologische Standards schaffen darüber hinaus die Basis für eine schnelle Reaktion auf neue Anforderungen (z.B. Regulatorik).

Entscheidet man sich für die Modernisierung der Infrastruktur, ist im Falle von auf dem Host betriebenen Anwendungen oft ein Rehosting der Applikationen sinnvoll. Beim Rehosting verlagert man die Anwendung(en) auf eine andere kostengünstere Plattform in der dezentralen Welt (UNIX, Linux oder Windows), ohne Änderung der Funktionalität. Der Kern der Enterprise-Applikationen bleibt grundsätzlich erhalten, also die Business-Logik, wie sie beispielsweise in COBOL- oder PL/1-Code implementiert ist.

Möchte man einen ganzheitlichen Ansatz realisieren, um eine bessere Zusammenarbeit der einzelnen Bereiche (Entwicklung, Qualitätssicherung, Operating) zu erreichen und so die Qualität, die Effizienz und den Software-Entwicklungszyklus für den Mainframe verbessern, so ist die Realisierung einer DevOps Strategie für MainframeUmgebungen der richtige Ansatz. Eine solche Strategie hilft, die Fehlerquote bei neuen Produktversionen zu verringern, die Bereitstellung neuer Anwendungen zu beschleunigen und den Zeitraum für das Beheben kurzzeitiger Störungen zu minimieren.

Ist die Wiederverwendung der bestehenden Geschäftsregeln und Anwendungen in neuen Systemumgebungen der dezentralen Welt, die flexibel, dynamisch und web-orientiert sind, das Ziel, muss die COBOL-Softwareentwicklung vom Komfort aktueller integrierter Entwicklungsoberflächen (IDEs) wie Visual Studio oder Eclipse profitieren. Der größte Vorteil liegt aber wahrscheinlich in der Möglichkeit, innerhalb einer einzigen IDE COBOL-Legacy-Code mit neueren, etwa in Java geschriebenen Projekten zusammenzubringen. So werden hybride Lösungen möglich, bei denen beispielsweise das COBOL-Backend mit einem Java-, RCP- oder Web-Frontend kombiniert werden.

In den kommenden Wochen werden wir hierzu verschiedene Szenarien der Anwendungsmodernisierung und ihre Vorteile näher erläutern.

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.

COBFather

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

DLblog