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.

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.

ChangeMan ZMF – what’s new?

Hot on the heels of our #iChange2016 DevOps event in Chicago, Al Slovacek looks at the new release of ChangeMan ZMF and anticpates some further integrations that are around the corner. Read on.

The need for speed…

Last year, Serena CEO Greg Hughes coined the term “HRLE” or “Highly Regulated Large Enterprise.” HRLEs depend on the mainframe platform for business critical system. They rely on this platform because of its unrivalled strengths and virtues.

We developed ChangeMan ZMF version 8 with all of these things in mind:

  • The need to move fast without breaking things
  • The need to do more with less

Business agility; the ability to respond to disruption, whether internal or external without losing focus is why leading enterprises depend on ChangeMan ZMF every day.

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ChangeMan ZMF delivers

The new release of ChangeMan ZMF, version 8.1, includes new code in support of over four hundred change requests from you. The prevailing theme of the release is of ease of administration, ease of upgrade and ease of installation. We introduced the HLLX platform, allowing customizations to be kept in an auxiliary area, coded in any LE language, so when you upgrade, you just recouple to the next release. It added the benefit of exposing these customizations to your IDEs and Client Pack components.

We followed up with 8.1.1, with two hundred more change requests, and 8.1.2 with another three hundred change requests. This makes version 8.x a significant step forward in the product focused on the improvements initiated by you.

ChangeMan

That was then….

Back in the day, some HRLE’s had eight to ten ChangeMan ZMF administrators. Today most organizations are down to one or two administrators despite the fact that number of applications, dev teams and IT locations has escalated exponentially. Combine that with navigating through compliance issues, and security concerns and you really do need to move fast without breaking things.

With all of this focus on the administrator, Serena also began to take a ruthless look at ways to improve the developer experience. We cataloged, aggregated and prioritized change requests that pertained to improving how developers experience ChangeMan ZMF. I interviewed customers, pulled discussions from Serena Central and scrubbed our own enhancement and ideas backlog.

Micro Focus and Serena Software – better together

In the middle of this shift of focus for my development teams, Micro Focus came along. Much to our serendipity, developer experience is where Micro Focus have put their recent engineering emphasis. As I’ve mentioned before in VUGs and elsewhere, Serena and Micro Focus have been in the same space for 30 years, yet never competed. This is because our products have never been competitive, but instead have been very complimentary.

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#iChange2016 Chicago

Consider Enterprise Developer for z, which was demonstrated both on the mainstage and in breakouts at iChange. That the two product teams were able to put this integration together in time for iChange, without smoke and mirrors is a testament to how well the products fit in with each other.

Micro Focus sent representatives from their Enterprise and Software Delivery and Test (SD&T) groups to give the attendees at iChange both broad and deep presentations into their solutions, and how easily and effectively they work with ChangeMan ZMF.

Now that the conference is behind us, the product teams are collaborating on the next wave of integrations. ZMF and Enterprise Test Server, Enterprise Sync, Enterprise Analyzer to name a few.

Look for some exciting developments in the coming months or contact us to find out more.

Is Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) Its Own Worst Enemy?

At Micro Focus, our customers are asking for a holistic approach to secure file transfer—one that provides more visibility, flexibility, and control. That’s why we’ve introduced Reflection® for Secure IT Gateway. This new SSH-based solution sits between the user and the SFTP server, and acts as a central point of control. Its job is to track every file going in and out of your enterprise, including who transferred it and what’s in it. David Fletcher investigates further in this blog….

Secure File Transfer Protocol

SFTP has long been a de facto standard for secure file transfer.  Originally designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), this extension of the Secure Shell protocol (SSH) 2.0 provides secure file transfer capabilities over the SSH network protocol.

In a nutshell, SFTP encrypts your data and moves it through an impenetrable encrypted tunnel that makes interception and decoding virtually impossible. While incredibly useful for business-to-business data sharing, SFTP poses a problem in our security-conscious world. Oddly enough, the problem is that SFTP works too well.

Let me explain. SFTP works so well that no one can see what’s being transferred—not even the people who need to see it for security reasons. Case in point: Edward Snowden. No matter what your thoughts on the subject, the fact is that Snowden used his privileged user status to transfer and steal sensitive files. Why was he able to do this? Because no one could see what he was doing. As a “privileged user” on the network, he had extensive access to sensitive files—files that he was able to transfer about, as he desired, without detection.

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In addition to the threats posed by unscrupulous privileged users, there’s another threat that’s cause for alarm. It’s called Advanced Persistent Threat (APT).  Basically, an APT is a ceaseless, sophisticated attack carried out by an organized group to accomplish a particular result—typically, the acquisition of information. The classic APT mode of operation is to doggedly steal the credentials of privileged users. The purpose, of course, is to gain unfettered access to sensitive or secret data. Once “in,” these APTers can transfer data and steal it without detection.  On a side note, Snowden used some of these APT tactics to steal credentials and validate self-signed certificates to gain access to classified documents.

APTs are often discussed in the context of government, but let me be clear: Companies are also a primary target. Take the recent Wall Street Journal article about a foreign government stealing plans for a new steel technology from US Steel. Such behavior is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how far some entities will go to steal information and technology.

Introducing Micro Focus Reflection for Secure IT Gateway

So given that transferring files is an essential business operation, what can you do to protect your organization from these dangerous threats? At Micro Focus, our customers are asking for a holistic approach to secure file transfer—one that provides more visibility, flexibility, and control. That’s why we’re introducing Reflection® for Secure IT Gateway. This new SSH-based solution sits between the user and the SFTP server, and acts as a central point of control. Its job is to track every file going in and out of your enterprise, including who transferred it and what’s in it.   It also provides the ability to essentially offload files and allow for 3rd party inspection and can then either stop the transfer and notify if something seem amiss or complete the transfer as required.

Reflection for Secure IT Gateway comes with a powerful browser-based interface that you can use to accomplish a number of transfer-related tasks:

  • Expose files for inspection by third-party tools
  • Automate pre- and post-transfer actions
  • Grant and manage SFTP administrator rights
  • Provision users
  • Configure transfers
  • Create jobs for enterprise level automation
  • Delegate tasks

Read more about Reflection for Secure IT Gateway or download our evaluation software and take a test drive. Learn how you can continue to benefit from the ironclad security of SFTP while also gaining greater file transfer visibility, flexibility, and control.

RUMBA9.4.5
Sr. Product Marketing Manager
Host Connectivity
(Orginally Published here)

It ain’t broke, but there’s still a better way

The latest release of Rumba+ Desktop now offers centralized security and management via Host Access Management and Security Server (MSS). MSS meets one of IT’s greatest challenges—keeping up with an ever-changing IT security landscape. David Fletcher covers better secure access to host systems in this blog.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

We’ve all heard the old adage  But here’s the thing: Even if it’s not broken, it could be better. Think about regular film versus digital? Rotary phones versus smartphones? Those electric football games that vibrated the players across the field versus Xbox?  All the early versions worked just fine. They delivered the same results as their new counterparts. So why did we upgrade?

The answer is obvious. We wanted a better experience. After all, what’s not to like about achieving the same thing with less effort, achieving more with less effort, improving results, or just having more fun along the way?

The same is true for software. Remember the early days of running a single application in DOS? Think back to how clunky and inefficient those applications were. Yet we thought they were amazing!

These days there’s another topic that is top-of-mind in the software world, and that is the topic of computer security. While an older version of your software may still accomplish the task it was designed for, the world in which that software lives has undergone radical change. Software designed ten years ago isn’t able to shield your enterprise against the sophisticated threats of today. The gap is vast and dangerous.

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Micro Focus and The Attachmate Group

Change comes when the benefits of a new solution outweighs the risk or pain of change. The good news is that change has come to Micro Focus® Rumba+ Desktop. The merger of Micro Focus and The Attachmate Group is enabling customers of both Rumba and Reflection terminal emulation software to get the best of both worlds. That’s why there are big gains to be had by updating now.

Let me be more specific. The latest release of Rumba+ Desktop now offers centralized security and management via Host Access Management and Security Server (MSS).  MSS meets one of IT’s greatest challenges—keeping up with an ever-changing IT security landscape. Customers always say, “We have 1000s of desktops at 100s of global locations. How do we keep up with PCI DSS, SHA-2, and TLS standards? How can we keep all of our clients up-to-date and secure? Just when we get everything updated, something new comes along that requires touching all of those workstations again.”

Rumba+ with Host Access Management and Security Server

Well, Rumba+ Desktop combined with Host Access Management and Security Server solves the problem.  Together, these products make it possible for you to:

  • Take centralized control of your host-access operations. You can lock down 100s (or 1000s) of desktops with ease, control access using your Identity and Access Management system (yes, it’s possible), and grant or deny access based on group or role. You can quickly apply changes to align with business needs or make post-install adjustments. And you can do it on your schedule, not someone else’s.
  • Reinforce security as you remove the need for mainframe passwords. By teaming Rumba+ Desktop with MSS, you can integrate your host systems with your existing IAM system. Then you can replace weak eight-character passwords with strong complex ones. You can even banish mainframe passwords—and password-reset headaches—by automatically signing users on to their mainframe applications.
  • Build a wall of security in front of your host. You can deliver end-to-end encryption and enforce access control at the perimeter with a patented security proxy. You can also enable multifactor authentication to authorize access to your host systems—which means you can take complete control of who is accessing your most valuable assets.

Micro Focus terminal emulation products have been providing secure access to host systems for decades. As technology advances and the security landscape continues to change, you can count on Micro Focus to help you find a better way.

RUMBA9.4.5
Sr. Product Marketing Manager
Host Connectivity
(Orginally Published here)

„End of Life“ – Opportunismus der Hersteller – die Zeche zahlt der Kunde

Die Hersteller Aussage “End of Life” bedeutet nie etwas Gutes. Auch wenn dies oftmals kein direktes und abruptes Ende des Produktes zur Folge hat, so sind die hieraus für Kunden resultierenden Konsequenzen oftmals gravierend und weitreichend: Investitionen müssen getätigt werden die nicht budgetiert waren und Kapazitäten werden gebunden – wichtige Initiativen zur Unterstützung der Unternehmensziele werden dadurch verzögert oder bleiben gänzlich auf der Strecke. Lesen Sie im neusten Blogbeitrag, warum am Ende der Kunde die Zeche für den Hersteller Opportunismus zahlen muss und welche Alternativen es gibt.

„End of Life“ bedeutet in der Regel nie etwas Gutes. Im Kontext der Hersteller beziehungsweise Produktzyklen bezeichnet es die Endstufe im Leben eines Produktes; für die Kunden ergibt sich hieraus oftmals ein ungewollter Handlungszwang. Die schnelle Entwicklung von Technologien, stetig wachsender Wettbewerbsdruck sowie die Nachfrage beeinflussen den Zeitpunkt des End of Life eines Produktes genauso wie der Aufwand seitens der Hersteller, verschiedene Produktversionen stets aktualisiert auf dem Markt vorzuhalten. Insbesondere letzteres bindet viele Kapazitäten und beeinträchtigt zudem die Fähigkeit schnell auf neue Kundenanforderungen zu reagieren und Innovationen voranzutreiben. Unter diesem Gesichtspunkt scheint es durchaus verständlich, dass jedes hergestellte Produkt irgendwann das Ende des Lebenszyklus erreicht, oder durch eine Weiterentwicklung oder ein neues Produkt ersetzt wird. Doch gerade in der IT-Branche stellt man neben den bereits genannten Aspekten weitere Motivationsgründe seitens der Hersteller fest, Produkte auslaufen zu lassen. Immer öfter sind nicht nur einzelne Produkte sondern vielmehr ganze Produktlinien dem „End-of-life“ Prozess unterworfen und das ist oftmals dem reinen Opportunismus der Software Hersteller geschuldet. So sind es häufig betriebswirtschaftliche Überlegungen der Hersteller – sei es, dass  Produktlinien nicht länger als strategisch wertvoll betrachtet werden, oder man in anderen Bereichen kurzfristig bessere Wachstums- und Ertragschancen für das eigene Unternehmen sieht – die zur  Einstellung von Produkten führen. Auch wenn die Hersteller-Aussage „End of Life“ meist keine abruptes Ende für das Produkt zur Folge hat, es vielmehr schleichend kommt, so sind die hieraus für Kunden resultierenden Konsequenzen oftmals gravierend und weitreichend: Investitionen müssen getätigt werden die nicht budgetiert waren und Kapazitäten werden gebunden – wichtige Initiativen zur Unterstützung der Unternehmensziele werden dadurch verzögert oder bleiben gänzlich auf der Strecke. Bisweilen diktieren Hersteller mit derartigen Entscheidungen ihren Kunden gar die strategische Ausrichtung der IT – das kann nicht im Interesse des Kunden sein.

Beispiele gibt es genügend – gerade Microsoft hat Kunden in den letzten Jahren mit dem ein oder anderen strategischen Hakenschlag seine Agenda aufgezwungen. So hat die Abkündigung des Microsoft Small Business Servers 2011 im Jahr 2013 ein Kundensegment betroffen, in dem IT-Resourcen besonders knapp und unnötige Aufwände damit umso schmerzhafter sind. Als Alternative bietet Microsoft den Windows Server 2012 Essentials an – der bietet allerdings nur Datei- und Druckdienste. Wer Exchange nicht aus der Cloud nutzen will, muss für den Betrieb seines Mail-Systems einen zusätzlichen Server anschaffen. Die Entscheidung ob ein Unternehmen seine IT in Teilen oder in Gänze in die Cloud verlagert ist jedoch primär eine Frage der Unternehmens- und IT-Strategie, die wohl überlegt sein will. Manchen Unternehmen ist es bereits aus Gründen des Datenschutzes nicht möglich in die Cloud zu gehen, für andere ist es schlicht nicht die richtige Lösung. Dennoch werden all diese Anwender durch die unternehmerische Entscheidung eines einzelnen IT-Lieferanten zum Handeln gezwungen. Glück im Unglück, dass die rasante Entwicklung in der IT für Kunden vor allen Dingen eines geschaffen hat: Alternativen.

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Es gibt jedoch auch positive Beispiele anderer Hersteller, die eindrucksvoll beweisen, dass in etablierte und von Kunden geschätzte Produkte investiert und diese stetig an veränderte Marktgegebenheiten und Anforderungen angepasst werden. Micro Focus hat es sich zum Ziel gesetzt Unternehmen dabei zu unterstützen innovativ zu bleiben ohne Risiken einzugehen. Eine unserer wichtigsten Aufgaben ist es dabei, unseren Kunden eine Brücke zu bauen, die bewährte Technologien für heutige und zukünftige Anforderungen rüstet – denn immer wenn uns das gelingt, ersparen wir unseren Kunden die erheblichen Aufwände und Risiken die mit Architekturwechseln verbunden sind. So verfügen Novell NetWare-Kunden die dem Druck zur Standardisierung auf Microsoft widerstanden haben Heute mit dem Micro Focus Open Enterprise Server über eine moderne, auf Enterprise Linux basierende Infrastruktur die Datei- und Druckdienste für stationäre wie mobile Anwender zuverlässig, effizient und sicher zur Verfügung stellt; Micro Focus COBOL-Kunden betreiben Anwendungen die vor Jahrzehnten geschrieben wurden Heute in der Cloud und stellen sie als Web Service mobilen Mitarbeitern und Endkunden zur Verfügung, ohne Millionen und Mannjahre in Neuentwicklungen oder die Implementierung und Anpassung von Standard-Software investiert zu haben; Host-Anwender bedienen 3270-Anwendungen auf ihrem Tablet und mit modernsten Benutzeroberflächen…Es gäbe noch viele Beispiele und die Liste wird sich fortschreiben, denn die Welt hört sich nicht auf zu drehen und wir werden nicht aufhören unseren Kunden Brücken in die Zukunft zu bauen. Auch für die von Microsoft zurückgelassenen Anwender der Small Business Suite haben wir übrigens eine Antwort: wechseln Sie auf die Linux-basierte Micro Focus Open Workgroup Suite.

Christoph

Christoph Stoica

Regional General Manager DACH

Vom Chaos zur Ordnung – was unaufgeräumte Kinderzimmer mit dem Berechtigungsmanagement zu tun haben

Die ungeliebte Aufgabe, Ordnung zu schaffen, gibt es nicht nur in Kinderzimmern. Auch in Unternehmen wird das „Aufräumen“ zum Beispiel in Bezug auf den Wildwuchs bei den Verzeichnisdiensten und im Berechtigungsmanagement eher als lästige und vor allem zeitraubende Pflicht angesehen. Die Folgen sind fatal und hoch riskant, denn unzulässige Berechtigungen oder verwaiste Konten bieten große Angriffsflächen für Datensabotage und -diebstahl. Götz Walecki zeigt mit seinem Blog Lösungen auf, wie man mittels Standardsoftware effizient innerhalb der der IT aufräumen kann.

Sommerzeit ist Ferienzeit –6 ½ Wochen bleiben die Schulen geschlossen und der Nachwuchs tobt sich angesichts des chronisch schlechten Wetters in diesem Sommer schonungslos in den Kinderzimmern aus. Hinter verschlossenen Türen, werden dann die Kisten mit Playmobil, Lego und diversen Puzzeln herausgekramt, umgestülpt und der Boden ist innerhalb kürzestes Zeit gänzlich mit Spielsachen bedeckt. Mit Schildern an den Zimmertüren wie „Sperrgebiet für Eltern“ oder „Zutritt verboten“ will der Nachwuchs die Eltern vor dem Betreten des Zimmers abhalten, denn auf den unweigerlich folgenden Satz „Jetzt räum doch mal dein Zimmer auf“ haben sie überhaupt keine Lust. Jeder von uns kennt diesen Satz nur allzu gut – sei es aus eigenen Kindheitstagen oder weil man ihn als seufzende Kapitulationserklärung gegenüber den eigenen Kindern selbst abgegeben hat. In aller Regel jedoch, vermutlich ebenfalls vertraut, zeigt dieser Satz ziemlich wenig Wirkung – das geliebte beziehungsweise ungeliebte Chaos bleibt. Doch die ungeliebte Aufgabe, Ordnung zu schaffen, gibt es nicht nur in Kinderzimmern. Auch in Unternehmen wird das „Aufräumen“ zum Beispiel in Bezug auf den Wildwuchs bei den Verzeichnisdiensten und im Berechtigungsmanagement eher als lästige und vor allem zeitraubende Pflicht angesehen. Viele Unternehmen pflegen die Zugangsberechtigungen für ihre Beschäftigten oft mehr schlecht als recht; nicht selten herrscht beim Thema Rechteverwaltung ein großes Durcheinander. Die Folgen sind unzulässige Berechtigungen oder verwaiste Konten. Aber gerade in einer Zeit, in der kompromittierte privilegierte Benutzerkonten das Einfallstor für Datensabotage oder -diebstahl sind, müssen Unternehmen dafür sorgen diese Angriffsflächen zu reduzieren, Risiken zu minimieren und Gegenmaßnahmen schnell einzuleiten. Hierfür werden intelligente Analysewerkzeuge benötigt auf deren Basis die richtigen Entscheidungen getroffen werden können.

Wie kann mittels Standardsoftware innerhalb der IT aufgeräumt werden?

Bei den Maßnahmen zur Prävention sollten Unternehmen daher Ihren Blick auf die Vereinfachung und Automatisierung von sogenannten Zugriffszertifizierungsprozessen richten, um Identity Governance Initiativen im Unternehmen zu etablieren. Die immer weiter zunehmende Digitalisierung mit all den unterschiedlichen Zugriffsmöglichkeiten auf sensible Daten und Systeme, sowie die Flexibilisierung der Arbeitsorganisation durch eine engere Einbindung von Partnern und Dienstleistern, schaffen einen unübersichtlichen Flickenteppich an Berechtigungen, der manuell kaum noch zu kontrollieren und zu überwachen ist.

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Die Analyse der Accounts und Berechtigungen, sowie eine Optimierung zum Beispiel im Bereich der Verzeichnisdienste, hilft Unternehmen nicht nur Sicherheitsrisiken, die beispielsweise durch verwaiste oder mit übermäßigen Berechtigungen ausgestattete Benutzerkonten entstehen, zu reduzieren, sondern trägt auch zu Kostenreduzierung bei. Denn jeder Nutzer zu viel kostet Geld und Sicherheit. Geschäftsleitung und Führungskräften benötigen Tools, die relevante Informationen bereitstellen, um Entscheidungen zu treffen, die das Risiko von Datenverlust reduzieren, Zugriffsberechtigungen auf das Nötigste beschränken und somit den an Unternehmen gestellten Anforderungen zur Datensicherheit genügen. Micro Focus bietet mit Access Review 2.0 eine flexible Lösung für diese Aufgabenstellung in puncto Attestierung und Rezertifizierung von Konten, Zugriffsrechten und Business Rollen.

Der Rezertifizierungsprozess ist dabei sehr anpassungsfähig und wird durch die Fokussierung auf Ausnahmen deutlich vereinfacht. Berichtsfunktionen mit vorkonfigurierten Berichten zu Berechtigungen, Zertifizierungsstatus, Anfragen/Genehmigungen und Regelverstößen, sowie Unterstützung für automatisierte Kampagnen ermöglichen eine deutliche Effizienzsteigerung der Governance und helfen bei der Kostenreduktion z.B. durch Identifikation und anschließender Entfernung verwaister Konten. Mit der Micro Focus Lösung sind Kunden in der Lage, jenseits der Verwaltung von Benutzerkonten den Benutzerzugriff auf programmatische, wiederhol- und nachweisbare Art und Weise tatsächlich zu regeln und somit die Angriffsfläche nachhaltig zu reduzieren.

Götz Walecki

Manager Systems Engineering

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Product Managers Unite!

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked. Lenore Adam investigates Atlas in her first Micro Focus blog post, enjoy!

With dev, test, and biz teams, that is.  Thanks to a Micro Focus Atlas, product managers can now be at one with dev, test, and business teams.

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked.

Capturing evolving customer needs and understanding the impact of these changes on schedules, resources, and budgets are what product managers do.  PMs are the voice of the customer for engineering, and the financial and business analyst for the executive committee.  But to do the job properly they need information in real time for insightful analysis.

  •  How will a new customer requirement impact the release cycle?
  • Which requirements caused the project timeline to slip?
  • How much development time was spent on a specific requirement?

This need for knowledge has driven the development of Micro Focus Atlas requirements management software. Let’s put Atlas to the test with a couple scenarios.

Your customers demand a new requirement. Development asks ‘exactly how badly do you need this?’

Product managers often have to evaluate trade-offs, like whether a new feature is worth a schedule delay.  They rely on data to support recommendations, but without good data, sound judgment is compromised.  One of my mentors used to chant ‘the data will show you the way’.  But how?

To begin with, you need your finger on the pulse of current activity.  Atlas creates a bi-directional link with DevOps and Agile tooling.  Customer requirements created in Atlas are sent to the Agile backlog, establishing a direct connection between customer requirements and the dispersed stories and tasks needed to execute that requirement. Automatic status updates of these activities are centralized back into Atlas and available for PMs. No black box of engineering activity, no need to interrupt busy engineering managers for updates.  Setting up the sync is pretty straightforward as these YouTube postings prove:

Syncing Atlas & Rally

Syncing Atlas & JIRA

Syncing TFS & Atlas

Now, with an eye on the future, use this data within the Atlas environment to develop a what-if planning scenario to evaluate options.  What would be the expected schedule impact if a new feature was included in the release?  Does the potential increase in revenue offset the expected schedule delay?  Linking engineering activities to customer requirements gives projects teams the tools needed to make better decisions.

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So why did the schedule slip?

The execs promised the sales teams and customers a timely delivery. So what went wrong?  Feature creep?  Did specific features take significantly longer to execute than planned?

Use the Atlas Time Machine feature to clarify cause and effect.  Explain why the original estimate was so far off with historical tracking that summarizes which stories were added, removed, or updated and how this impacted schedule over time.

Leverage the data in Atlas for your project post mortem to make the next project even better.  Atlas project baselining is where the team hits ‘rewind’ to uncover the original project definition and scope. The version control identifies each change, the person who made it and any associated discussions for context.  For the multi-disciplinary team, this is an opportunity for an informed discussion and objective review after the whirlwind of development and release.

The hands-on executive – ‘hey, remember what happened the last time you did that?’ 

What happens when an executive bypasses the decision-making process?  Suddenly, a requirement ‘proposal’ becomes a new requirement, end of story.  True confession: we often padded our schedules and budgets with a line item affectionately labeled ‘friends of execs’ to factor in these unpredictable yet inevitable curve balls.

The trick is to view the schedule before and after the unplanned insertion in a previous project.  Was there a schedule slip – and if so, how bad was it?  Even understand the breadth of impact by using the Atlas Relationship Diagram to trace downstream requirements that may also have been impacted.

And here’s the killer data point you need to save the project from unhelpful top-floor intervention:  How much development time was chewed up by the requirement?  That said, Atlas just records the facts. You’ll need to draw on all your expert diplomacy skills to present them. Try ‘Just sayin’…’

Micro Focus Application Delivery and Testing   

Accelerated delivery.  Continuous quality.

Make Atlas your resource for uniting business, development, and test teams. And it doesn’t cost a cent to get started. Access a free cloud-based trial of Atlas 3.0 and start.

Introducing Micro Focus Enterprise Sync: Delivering Faster Change

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Why can’t we deliver multiple streams?

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

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

Removing Barriers

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

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

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

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Find out more

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

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

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Visual COBOL new release: Small point. Big deal

The latest iteration of Visual COBOL is a minor point release that could make a big difference to how our customers manage their business application portfolios. Solutions Marketing Director Ed Airey explains more

As my colleague Derek Britton recently pointed out, IT must adapt to help customers to meet the challenges of change. We get that. That is why every new iteration of Visual COBOL has enabled owners of COBOL applications to innovate.

They create new products from long-established IT assets and Visual COBOL 2.3.1 continues the narrative for those running COBOL on Windows or UNIX or Linux.

For Micro Focus it signals a further commitment to future-proofing the core applications that run the business. For our customers it offers more options to deliver the products their customers demand and dealing with change, both planned and unplanned. But what does that mean? And how does the new version help?

Platform alteration

The increasing pace of change is driving the need to innovate faster and IT is the key to delivering it. Whatever the end product, it must be delivered cost-effectively. For some organizations, that means changing operating systems and platforms. The freedom of open source, personified by Linux, offers new options and freedoms.

IBM recognize the new direction, hence their investment in Linux on Power and LinuxOne. These systems offer the robustness and performance of proven enterprise systems – up to 30bn transactions per day and 100 per cent uptime – and the option for continual innovation.

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A new version for a new profile

Visual COBOL now supports systems running Linux on Power (LOP). More details here.  This new Linux capability is an incremental move that for some organizations could represent a sea change.

It’s a step forward reflected in another Micro Focus product update for mainframers. As this latest blog explains, the mainframe solution is also now at Enterprise 2.3.1.  So great news for friends of Big Blue who can now access the same tools and capability.

Visual COBOL has been in the open systems space for some time. It already supports SUSE Linux, but the move to LOP represents a new opportunity for owners of COBOL applications to utilize the power of flexible platforms offering ‘new project’ innovation and modern development options. VC1

So why is this significant?

For the modern IT enterprise, this move further consolidates the alignment of important entities.

COBOL’s resilience is well-documented. Micro Focus continues to invest millions of R&D dollars and future educational support in COBOL. The developer-driven #COBOLrocks Tech cast series open the door to new opportunities for those at the front line of application development. Aligning that potential with the flexibility of Linux extends the potential for innovation through application modernization.

It also further consolidates the relationship between IBM and Micro Focus. Our customer share a similar profile–enterprise, large in scale, core business systems–and their investment in Linux on Power gives those organizations with COBOL applications, powerful options to embrace future change.

One solution for every environment

Micro Focus supports platform choice. Which is why the new incarnation of Visual COBOL means that any environment can be customized to offer future flexibility, whatever the profile.

While LOP enablement is the stand-out feature of 2.3.1, Visual COBOL brings the same level of innovation and modernization to other processors. Languages are the same–Java was recently called out as, potentially, sharing COBOL’s resilience. No problem. Visual COBOL delivers unrivaled flexibility across your choice of modern language, platform or architecture. .

See what this means for your business applications – discover the depth of potential for application innovation in your organization–check out the Visual COBOL solution brief to learn more about this unique, flexible technology.

2.3: Taste the future Micro Focus Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer 2.3 Launch!

Micro Focus continues to invest millions of dollars each year in enhancing and expanding its products to meet new technology standards and market demand. The 2.3 release of Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer in October 2015 is another example of our products’ continuing evolution to support a variety of market challenges. Derek Britton got an early view.

Introduction

As we’ve mentioned before, the Micro Focus DevDay event provides customers with an ideal opportunity to not only ask real questions of the Micro Focus experts, but also see the technology in action in our live demo sessions. Customers attending our New York and Toronto DevDays were treated to an early preview of the latest 2.3 releases of Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer. I managed to scribble some notes.

First Principles

2.3 will represent another milestone in Micro Focus’ relentless pursuit of product excellence, capability and usability, as shaped by some fundamental principles. In terms of setting themes for each release, Micro Focus continues to follow its core mantra of –

  • COBOL language longevity
  • Best in class development technology
  • Unrivalled platform portability
  • Support for accelerated IT delivery

At the heart of our investment choices for our products, Micro Focus considers customer input, framed in the context of our core principles, to ensure we continue to provide the capabilities our customers and the wider market needs. Here were a just a few of the highlights.

Visual COBOL

Visual COBOL includes a range of new tech innovations, including:

App Performance

We’ve spent plenty of time and effort optimizing the COBOL deployment environment (often called the runtime), to incrementally improve application performance. Our goal was to achieve improved application performance across all deployment platforms. Although individual customer performance mileage will vary, our internal benchmarks with 2.3 have delivered some impressive results:

  • Up to 30% faster app performance using Windows 64bit
  • Up to 40% faster app performance using  HP platforms
  • Major industry performance benchmarks (USSTEEL and CSAMPLE) are performing between 5-12% faster across all platforms

Developer Tools & Platforms

Micro Focus prides itself on providing class-leading development technology. Part of this is to ensure we are integrating with the latest IDE technology. 2.3 supports the latest development tools from Microsoft – Visual Studio 2015 and the latest open computing development environment – Eclipse 4, further enhancing the developer experience (Figure 1).  Micro Focus delivered the FIRST market support for COBOL within Visual Studio 2015 in August this year.  Interestingly, the new VS2015 IDE was also the platform used by a technology intern at Microsoft as they taught themselves COBOL coding in just a couple of hours! Read their fascinating story here.

Of course, platform support is an evolving investment too. 2.3 certifies against new environments including Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 RC2, and recent releases of IBM TX Series 8.2 and the open source Postgres database. For some clients, an important consideration is that XP is still supported.

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New Mobile & SOA technology

An exciting addition to our technology integration story is that we have refreshed our web services toolkit to support emerging standards and mobile technology; specifically the Interface Mapping Toolkit (IMTK) facility now includes support for RESTful web services using JSON, making the provision of COBOL-based web services easier than ever.

On the Mainframe Side

In addition to all the updates in Visual COBOL above, which are also available in Enterprise Developer, our flagship mainframe development product has been updated in a variety of ways.

Smarter Mainframe Development

Building mainframe applications faster, either using established approaches or by looking towards DevOps or agile, remains a primary objective for many organizations. Supporting this objective, we’ve implemented some new usability and efficiency improvements in this release:

  • We’ve added a Web portal for easy access to application knowledge for all users , as well as adding a simple Wizard to assist in building the application repository, to accelerate understanding across all developers.
  • The release includes faster and smarter code editing across mainframe COBOL, PL/I and JCL sources, integrating and simplifying the task of maintaining a range of application source types
  • Based on customer feedback, we have implemented a new facility for fast test data record editing. This includes a structure view and search and filter capabilities. Getting up and running on unit testing has never been easier.

Quality Counts

This release also includes significant improvements to assist in building high quality applications. First, Micro Focus has introduced the concept of ‘knowledge at the point of change’ by making code analysis functions (available via Enterprise Analyzer) but now within the developer’s own IDE. This provides key analysis features directly within Enterprise Developer, enabling activities such as standards checking, performance analysis and application knowledge to be immediately available to the developer. (See figure 2).

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Future Proofing

The mainframe environment continues to evolve, and the 2.3 Enterprise product set release reflects our mission to support emerging standards in the host environment. A few additions this time include:

  • Improved mainframe DB2 compatibility
  • Direct access to IMS DB data for batch processes
  • PL/I support extended to include GRAPHIC datatype, more built in functions, etc.
  • Support for FTP commands in Enterprise Server JCL

See for Yourself

Of course, it would be impossible for me to attempt to cover everything that’s been added into a single blog. We’ve barely scratched the surface in fact. However, the products are released alongside datasheets as well as the “what’s new” documentation – download your copy for Visual COBOL and Enterprise today to read more. Additionally, the products are available for evaluation for customers interested in seeing it for themselves.

But as our investment in DevDay testifies, we are more interested in your application development technology needs, and would be happy to discuss your business requirements and how our solutions can assist. This is our Value Profile service. If you would like to discuss further, get in touch.