Introducing the new cobol.com – Cobol Makes Life Better

The future’s never been brighter for Cobol. And that’s got to make life better for you, too.

With 50 years under its belt, Cobol is set to remain the dominant language for business applications for the next 50 years. Having consistently seen off the young pretenders, Cobol has continued to evolve to meet every new demand thrown at it, from both business and technology.

Business applications written in Cobol are faster, more precise and more powerful than ever. And now it’s easier than ever to run them on the platforms that make the most business sense – now and in the future.

Visit http://www.cobol.com for more information.

Application Overhaul – Top Ten Best Practices for Cutting Your IT Debt

Number one. Top-down application portfolio evaluation: There are quick wins to be had.

Top-down application portfolio evaluation: There are quick wins to be had

It’s practically impossible to differentiate between business processes and the applications that automate them, your business and its application portfolio have become so closely intertwined. It is imperative that IT managers maintain a firm control over the applications, but rising complexity in the application portfolio threatens to undermine both the systems and your control of them. They are expensive, inflexible, and unstable, and that means they don’t provide the business value they should.

Application portfolios contain complex relationships between hardware, software, people, and processes that have been adapted over many years. For instance, a Java-based order management system may relay data to a call center’s COBOL application, which relies in turn on a PL/I order fulfillment system on the mainframe.

Over time these systems only grow more complex. New requirements arrive, markets change, business needs emerge, hardware is modified, new programming languages emerge, and architectural standards erode. Portfolios become overloaded with duplicate, redundant, undocumented, and fragile systems that don’t support the business. This rising complexity has significantly negative impacts on the IT organization:

  • Development costs rise as previously simple changes require senior development effort
  • Development risks increase as changes can disrupt the portfolio in unforeseen ways
  • Infrastructure costs rise as operations cannot shut off the hardware that supports inefficient or redundant applications
  • Business users can’t get new capabilities because development is busy just trying to keep the lights on

Even more pressing is that the applications are no longer supporting the business.  Resources aren’t available to adapt these systems to support new requirements.  That has to change.

Naturally, IT managers want to focus resources on producing new business services, and not on maintaining existing ones, but the sheer complexity of their portfolio means resources can’t be spared. Even if they could, it’s hard to know where to start. And so, the IT debt continues to accumulate.  It’s also no surprise that Application Overhaul activities are delayed.  It’s tough to decide where to focus effort.  So, where do we go from here?  Let’s get some “quick wins” under our belts so we can reinvest in modernization activities that continue to boost flexibility and cut costs.

Application Portfolio Management (APM) offers a path. It is a best practice that helps users intelligently prioritize development and modernization initiatives. APM works by measuring key performance indicators about your portfolio. This data shows IT management where they should focus effort to get the most return for the business.  Collecting data from top-level surveys of key stakeholders can provide this quick win.  Understanding the value, cost, and risk of applications via browser-based surveys helps you quickly spot unneeded and costly applications.  Rationalization of unnecessary business processes and applications can quickly free up significant budget.  You can progressively enhance insight into your applications as you focus modernization initiatives on key applications.  

But what metrics should we collect? First, take a step back and start with the goals that you want to achieve for IT and business. What metrics you’ll need will come naturally when you take a goal / question / metric approach to understanding the portfolio. These goals come from interplay between IT and business stakeholders in the organization and will likely tie to the most pressing pains you feel now.

Eliminate business processes that are not needed: This goal is straightforward.  There are significant numbers of applications that have been developed for business goals that are no longer relevant.  Determining who “owns” a business process and gauging its current need helps you identify and correct waste.

Choose IT projects that are supported by business requirements: This goal looks at a strategic planning approach and how to ensure that new activities are weighted by their relevance to the business.

Shift development focus from maintenance to innovation: This goal aims to reduce the cost of supporting existing applications – for instance, through the removal of redundant systems.

Cut the risk of business process failure or performance loss: This goal looks at cutting the complexity of a given set of applications. This is often achieved through architectural improvements and refactoring.

Lower the cost of completing a business requirement: This goal aims to reduce the effort needed to move a work item through development. This is often addressed by enabling lower cost resources to work on a change.

Lower the cost of IT infrastructure: This goal looks at ways to cut ongoing costs for hardware and software support costs. In addition to removing redundancy, this goal may aim to move applications to better supported and more economical architectures.

Naturally, your own goals will depend on the specifics of your organization. Collaboration across these various facets of your organization will help to ensure that goal determination is synchronized and sufficiently complete.

In the second of the top ten tips, we’ll be examining the importance of securing senior sponsorship to effect real business and application efficiency to reduce the IT debt. Revisit the blog regularly for updated articles.

New terminal emulation and user interface modernization solutions launched

Micro Focus has announced the general availability of RUMBA v8.1, Web-to-Host v6.1, and OnWeb 7.5. This new, innovative suite of terminal emulation and user interface modernization solutions is designed to maximize productivity for users of green screen applications.

With the announcement of RUMBA v8.1, Web-to-Host v6.1, and OnWeb 7.5 now organizations can fully leverage existing corporate applications, for maximum value.

Highlights include:

  • Tabs, tiles, and zoom a new user interface enabling customers to scan multiple customer touch points at the same time from one screen
  • History tracking in RUMBA shows the end user’s progress through a transaction that can be renamed and searched on
  • Microsoft Office ready, customers can now interact with Microsoft Office applications from within RUMBA. Sending application details via Outlook, Microsoft Word, OneNote and PowerPoint is only a click away.
  • Developing with .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio is made easier with RUMBA’s full .NET compatibility and pre-packaged source and example files in Visual Studio.
  • Increased performance
  • FIPS compliant, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Secure Shell (SSH) technology for secure terminal and FTP sessions to host computers. TLS 1.0 is supported.
  • Customers can now modify and create custom toolbars in RUMBA
  • Web-to-Host 6.1 is fully DBCS compatible

To learn more about the new features and the benefits of these newly released products, two webinars have been organized. They are scheduled for:

• Webinar #1: December 7th, 2010 @ 11:00 GMT / 6:00 Eastern
• Webinar #2: December 7th, 2010 @ 18:00 GMT / 13:00 Eastern

Please select the webinar that is most convenient for your timezone.

If you have an active Micro Focus SupportLine agreement, we can help you ensure continued uptime and a smooth transition to new technologies and operating systems, providing updates, fixes and new releases, as well as hotline support.

If you are using a competitive terminal emulation solution and would like to know more about the pricing incentives to migrate or consolidate to a Micro Focus solution, please contact your Micro Focus sales representative.

For more information, please visit www.microfocus.com/RUMBA

Visual COBOL R3 Technology Preview

Exclusive preview of Visual COBOL release 3 in a technology preview, and discover the latest features currently in Beta test.

You can get an exclusive preview of the next wave of technology developments for Visual COBOL in a live webinar on 7 December 2010. Discover latest features such as Visual COBOL support for Eclipse IDE, capability to build and deploy COBOL applications to Azure cloud and JVM, and much more. Hosted by Product Management Director, Mark Warren, the webinar features live demos of the tools that Micro Focus is preparing to launch in January 2011.

The beta program for Visual COBOL Release 3 launched on November 8th and over 230 people registered to take part. Over 70 beta sites are currently putting the Beta version through its paces. Internally, Micro Focus ran an Extended Super Test. You can find out how that went in the short video below. We hope you enjoy it.

To join us for this Technology Preview, register here

Application Overhaul – Top Ten Best Practices for Cutting Your IT Debt

Peter Mollins, Head of Product Marketing for Micro Focus Application Management Quality Division, introduces a series of articles on best practice for overhauling applications.

Gartner has caused quite a stir this time.  At the Gartner Symposium event in Orlando they announced that companies are burdened by $500 billion of “IT debt”.  This debt represents the accumulated backlog of development activities that haven’t been accomplished in the past 10 years.  Increased business pressure and declining IT resources have combined to make it nearly impossible for IT to keep up with the pace of market changes. 

That means that new market opportunities can’t be addressed, government regulation can’t be quickly complied with, and companies quickly lose their competitive edge.  What’s worse is that it’s not getting better.  Demands on IT are snowballing and the cost cutting that has taken place has meant even less capacity.  That’s why Gartner piled it on by saying that the backlog will double to $1 trillion by 2015. 

To get back in line with what the business demands, IT has to tackle this debt.  But it won’t be done by adding new resources; the current economic climate just doesn’t permit it.  So, what do industry leaders do?  In this series of blog entries Micro Focus looks at each of the ten best practices for freeing up resources to focus on business priorities.

The Top Ten are:

1)      Top-down application portfolio evaluation: There are quick wins to be had

2)      Senior sponsorship is essential: This is not an IT issue

3)      Identify your unique intellectual property: The truth is in there!

4)      Move to the right platform for your business… not IT

5)      Preserve and extend the competitive differentiation in your core applications

6)      Modernize your tooling: Maximize productivity… and relevance

7)      Build Quality Throughout the Lifecycle: It’s not just about testing

8)      Collaborate!  Stakeholder involvement is critical

9)      Manage your changes: It’s not just about source code

10)   An application is for life… Not just for development

We’ll be investigating each of these important best practices in turn, starting with the quick wins to be had from top-down application portfolio evaluation. Be sure to revisit the blog for more details.

Getting requirements right – all the resources you need in one place

You’ll find a wide range of resources in one easy to access resource center – providing practical guidance on best practices to help you head-off the cost of getting requirements wrong.

When you consider that a staggering 70% of software defects are introduced at the requirements stage, you’ll understand the importance of getting requirements right from the outset of any project.

That’s why we have put a wide range of resources – from white papers to webcasts, videos to case studies, analyst report, datasheets and demos – in one easy to access resource center.

The resource center features a wealth of practical guidance on best practices essential to ensure quality within your requirements process, and head-off the costs of getting the requirements wrong.

You’ll learn from experts in the field from leading analysts, Forrester Research, and QinetiQ and Lockheed Martin, companies who are getting requirements right.

Why not visit the resource center to discover the benefits that sound requirements definition and management practices can bring to your projects?

Casino software company bets on Micro Focus

When casino software provider, Table Trac, looked to modernize its application portfolio and prepare to move into future technologies it turned to Micro Focus for help to migrate over one million lines of code to a web services environment.

When casino software provider, Table Trac, looked to modernize its application portfolio and prepare to move into future technologies it turned to Micro Focus for help to migrate over one million lines of code to a web services environment.

Read Table Trac’s story here.

VisiBroker News

Activity for the next VisiBroker release, Version 8.5, is stepping up a gear. A wealth of new features include an enhanced Platform Currency matrix, ‘pure’ IPV6 support, logging performance enhancements and the release also addresses over 100 RPI (customer or QA reported issues). Find out more in the VisiBroker Update.

Welcome to the latest VisiBroker update, your resource for information on VisiBroker development, support and related topics.

Activity for the next VisiBroker release, Version 8.5, is stepping up a gear. VisiBroker 8.5 is the first release since Micro Focus acquired Borland and demonstrates our commitment to continue investing in its development to the benefit of our customers.

This update highlights some of the features and enhancements planned for VisiBroker 8.5

Platform Currency

Platform currency involves keeping up with new releases of operating systems, compilers and other supporting technologies such as chipset and binary modes. We intend to continue supporting currently used platforms, while also introducing next-generation versions where relevant.

Below is the planned (provisional) Platform Currency matrix for Version 8.5:

Operating System Processor Bits Compliers
Windows 7 X86 32 Sun JDK
Windows XP (SP2) C++
Windows Vista .NET
Windows Server 2008 (SP1)  
Windows Server 2003  (SP2/R2)  
(Standard & Enterprise editions)  
Includes Terminal Server X64 64  
       
(Oracle) Sun Solaris 10 SPARC 32 Sun JDK
64 C++
X86 32  
 
X64 64  
       
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0 X86 32 Sun JDK
IBM JDK
X64 64 C++
Itanium 64 Sun JDK
C++
       
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 X86 32 Sun JDK
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 X64 64 C++
       
Monta Vista Linux CGE V5.1 X64 X64 Sun JDK
Monta Vista Linux CGE V4.0 IBM JDK
C++
       
HP-UX 11iv2 /11.23 PA-RISC 32 HP JDK
64 C++
HP UX 11i v3/11.31 PA-RISC 32  
64  
Itanium 64  
       
AIX 6 (v6.1) POWER 32 IBM JDK
64 C++
       


“Pure” IPV6

IPV6 represents the extension of IP addressing to 128 bits from the 32 bits used by IPV4. Until now, it was supported only in a hybrid IPV4 / IPV6 network, whereby in Version 8.5,  all functionality (except OSAGENT) will be supported in absence of IPv4 on those platforms for which such a configuration is possible.

Logging Peformance Enhancements

The VisiBroker logging feature has been improved to better support diagnosis of faults (both in VisiBroker and in applications, should they occur):

  • The basic logging mechanism has been optimized to reduce the performance hit incurred when turning logging on;
  • The content of some log messages has been improved where, over time, those messages had become inconsistent;
  • The distribution of messages between the different log-levels has been adjusted so that the levels represent different trade-offs in information versus performance;
  • The performance impact of each level has been observed to verify the differences.

Customer-Reported Issues

VisiBroker 8.5 includes fixes for over 100 RPIs (customer or QA-reported issues). The full list will be included in the full “What’s New” document.

Benefits of Migration

For current VisiBroker customers the key benefits of migrating to VisiBroker 8.5 are:

  • Keeping current with the latest platform editions – whether operating system, compiler or other supporting technology, Version 8.5 will be the VisiBroker mainstream platform going forward.
  • Baseline for future enhancements – future enhancements will be done on the VisiBroker 8.5 code base and Micro Focus is taking steps to ensure binary compatibility between Version 8.5 and future releases.
  • Lower pricing for multi-core extensions – if you plan to extend your license footprint to new servers, or to migrate to multi-core servers, list prices for Version 8.5 multi-core are lower than for previous versions. Note that if you are already receiving a discount, price changes may not apply.

For further information, contact VisiBroker sales.

Webcast: Application Modernization, 23rd November

After the crisis: Driving business agility and meeting customer demands through application modernization.

Rodney Nelsestuen, Senior Research Director for TowerGroup, and Peter Gadd, Vice President, Micro Focus, discuss the drivers behind core systems modernization and how it affects the bottom line for financial services institutions and their IT departments at this webcast moderated by Bank Systems & Technology associate editor Matt Gunn.

Register now

Modernization. Clearing a Pathway to Success. New Standish Group Research report.

What do you do when you’re faced with three choices, each of which answers your business pain? You need a clear pathway to success…

What do you do when you’re faced with three choices, each of which answers your business pain? When the problem is staring you in the face, the thing to do is break down the solutions one by one, piece by piece, to determine the best, most advantageous and most effective course of action.

This is what the Standish Group has done in its report: Modernization. Clearing a Pathway to Success.

Using a real life engagement, the report illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of three approaches to an organization’s need to improve a mission critical business application: rewrite, replace with a package and modernize the application. Each option is studied in detail – with core characteristics mapped against the Standish Group’s database of some 70,000 IT projects.

Read the detailed report here – and ask yourself, what course of action would you take?

Expo:QA’10 15 – 18 November, Feria de Madrid.

Participants can network with market leaders, like Micro Focus, as well as fellow professionals and exchange ideas on the QA and testing issues they face day-to-day.

This is the premier event in the Quality & Software Testing sector in Spain. Aimed at professionals who are focused on improving processes, meeting ever-shorter deadlines and increasing the quality of their products, expo:QA provides a unique opportunity to keep up to date with the latest testing techniques, solutions and services and cutting-edge thinking.

Participants can network with market leaders, like Micro Focus, as well as fellow professionals and exchange ideas on the QA and testing issues they face day-to-day.

As a Gold Sponsor, Micro Focus’ speaker track is on Wednesday, November 17th at 15:45. Belén Bernardos, Presales Consultant at Micro Focus, will be addressing the question of: Application Transformation and Continuous Quality Assurance to help achieve the business objectives.

With more than 15 years of in-depth experience within the IT sector, Belén will be outlining the challenges that senior IT decision makers face, and how to address them. Before joining Micro Focus, Belén held important roles at different companies, including Compuware, where she was able to develop her experience in all aspects of Application Lifecycle Management.

www.expoqa.com