Waste Not, Want Not

Written by Tod Tompkins

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released his annual report of the top 100 “countless unnecessary, duplicative, or just plain stupid projects spread throughout the federal government” that were “paid for with your tax dollars this year that highlight the out-of-control and shortsighted spending excesses in Washington” (Sen. Coburn clearly pulls no punches). Wastebook 2011 identifies – in Sen. Coburn’s opinion – $6.9 billion worth of spending that should not have occurred over the past 12 months.

Wastebook 2011 provides detailed spending information on things ranging from politician partying to video game preservation; from fraudulent tax credit home improvement claims to three-dimensional, high-definition holographic mummy image exhibits. Now, this report is clearly controversial and debatable – but it does force you to think. What other wasteful spending practices are going on in the government that can easily be addressed?

Let’s start our own Wastebook list. Provide your thoughts in the comment section below. Here are a few of my thoughts to start things off:

  • Unnecessary operation and maintenance costs associated with legacy systems and large mainframe environments
  • Additional charges resulting from the lack of testing during the application development process
  • Costs associated with new system development versus a simple migration
  • Loss of production from using old, antiquated technology platforms

What else?

Let’s keep the conversation going during the holidays, and I’ll pick up where I left off in the New Year. Wishing all of our readers and followers a happy (and cost-effective) holiday season.

Borland StarTeam 12.0

New release unifies ALM environments and incorporates Tasktop Dev and TaskTop Sync Borland connectors.

Borland announces the general availability of StarTeam 12.0 on 16 December 2011. This latest release of our software change and configuration management solution significantly extends interoperability options of application lifecycle management (ALM) tools and asset types across software development teams.  The fully customisable repository of StarTeam 12.0 empowers organizations to overcome traditional development barriers such as a lack of cross-tool visibility and inefficient cross-process collaboration.

Borland StarTeam has always provided management support for a wide range of ALM asset types, including version controlled files, customizable change requests, tasks, requirements and threaded discussions. The new suite extends the types of ALM assets which an organization can place under management, thereby significantly increasing the value of stored and managed development assets for software delivery teams. The inclusion of the new Borland Connector adds ALM tool interoperability to the product, making it possible for a more diverse set of ALM practitioners to directly participate and contribute to the developer’s work scope. Borland StarTeam 12.0 automatically connects developers and their code to any other change management artifact, enabling teams to fully participate in the flow of software delivery to end users. By making it easier to extend the types of software assets that can be managed, StarTeam enables organizations to better shape their ALM environment according to their unique development tool landscape and methodology needs.

Archie Roboostoff, Borland Portfolio Director, explains, “Customers now have constant management visibility across their ALM infrastructure. Whether it’s open source co-existence or a need to support a more agile environment, StarTeam is the single source of truth that links everything together and delivers true distributed team collaboration.”

Key benefits and features of StarTeam 12.0 include:

  • Extendable ALM assets: StarTeam 12.0 help teams take control of their SCCM infrastructure by allowing users to extend the definition of which ALM assets can be managed. Newly defined asset types make use of familiar usage paradigms, leading to a reduced learning curve and improved adoption.
  • Borland Tasktop connector certification and integration: Make developers full members of the software delivery process through task-focused access to StarTeam change management assets or other 3rd party tools from within the Eclipse or Visual Studio IDE’s.
  • Consolidated Visibility: With Tasktop Sync, organizations can now view all artifacts, custom or otherwise, from third-party tools, bringing them into the same unified presentation as native StarTeam artifacts.
  • Development Efficiency: With Tasktop Dev, developers are able to stay in their IDE where they are most productive, but still participate in the processes and workflows that management needs.
  • Increased Visibility for Management: More accurate and frequent developer status and time reporting provides management with increased visibility for project planning.
  • Enhanced Traceability: Organizations now have the flexibility to automatically create traceability between source code and change management artifacts from third-party systems. This allows for streamlined multi-tool processes and encourage informed decision making.
  • ALM Synchronization: StarTeam is now supported by the industry-standard Eclipse Mylyn ALM interoperability framework which provides real-time synchronization, configurable automatic conflict resolution, and support for more than two dozen ALM tools’ tracking and reporting facilities.

By combining StarTeam 12.0 with both Tasktop Dev and TaskTop Sync Borland connector, customers get the best of both worlds.  Developers go about their business – coding – with all the efficiency that Tasktop brings, while, at the same time, automatically capturing accurate and up-to-date traceability and time-tracking information.  And with Tasktop Sync, management gains valuable insight and confidence knowing that the information they are viewing represents a single source of the truth built in real-time across multiple systems and tools. Combined, these capabilities pave the way for low risk ALM tool and process consolidation.

Launch a Cost Savings Dashboard…Now We’re Talking

Written by Tod Tompkins

I recently read an article from John Foley of InformationWeek Government that called for government to provide “better, more concrete numbers on savings and returns” – what a novel idea! Foley calls for the establishment of an IT Savings and ROI Dashboard, similar to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) acclaimed IT Dashboard, which would “reflect efficiency gains by agency and over the course of years.” I love it. The only thing wrong with this idea is that I did not come up with it myself. I encourage you to read the article.

The concept of Foley’s IT Savings Dashboard is to provide greater insight into where government funds are actually going, increasing transparency to the citizen. Foley asks: “Are costs squeezed in one area being reinvested in another? Or are they being returned to taxpayers in the form of reduced spending?” The dashboard would also allow the government to get “a better handle on where the savings will come from and how they add up.” Why not take that one step further? Why not leverage that information to prioritize activities by near-term vs. longer-term savings potential, and focus on executing those activities that will help cut the budget today?

By now we all know that agencies need to cut $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. We should also all know that other unforeseen future factors – inflation, war requirements, monetary aid and the like – can quickly and easily derail any planned future savings. Let’s make year one, two, or three cost-cutting initiatives the priority, then. Let’s get that $1.2 trillion down as soon as possible, before the next incident occurs that requires significant – and unforeseen – federal funding.

New Borland StarTeam Release from Micro Focus Unifies ALM Environments

Expanded capabilities deliver increased productivity and cross-tool visibility to all software delivery stakeholders

Micro Focus (LSE:MCRO.L), the leading provider of enterprise application modernization, testing and management solutions, today announced the launch of Borland StarTeam 12.0. The new suite of change management tools increases and extends interoperability of application lifecycle management (ALM) tools and asset types across software development teams. This helps to overcome traditional development barriers such as lack of cross-tool visibility and inefficient collaboration.

Borland StarTeam has always provided management support for a wide range of ALM asset types, including version controlled files, customizable change requests, tasks, requirements and threaded discussions. The new suite extends the types of ALM assets which an organization can place under management, giving it access to a larger and potentially much more valuable repository. The inclusion of the new Borland Connector adds complete ALM tool interoperability to the product, making it possible for a more diverse group of ALM practitioners to directly participate and contribute to the developer’s work scope. Borland StarTeam 12.0 automatically connects developers and their code to any other change management artifact, enabling teams to fully participate in the flow of software delivery to end users. By making it easier to extend the types of software assets that can be managed, StarTeam enables organizations to better shape their ALM environment according to their unique development tool landscape and methodology needs.

“With this new release of StarTeam, customers now have constant management visibility across their ALM infrastructure,” said Archie Roboostoff, Borland Portfolio Director. “Whether it’s open source co-existence or a need to support a more agile environment, StarTeam is the single source of truth that links everything together and delivers true distributed team collaboration.”

Key benefits and features of StarTeam 12.0:

  • Extendable ALM assets: StarTeam 12.0 help teams take control of their SCCM infrastructure by allowing users to extend the definition of which ALM assets can be managed. Newly defined asset types make use of familiar usage paradigms, leading to a reduced learning curve and improved adoption.
  • Borland Tasktop connector certification and integration: Make developers full members of the software delivery process through task-focused access to StarTeam change management assets or other 3rd party tools from within the Eclipse or Visual Studio IDE’s.
  • Consolidated Visibility: With Tasktop Sync, organizations can now view all artifacts, custom or otherwise, from third-party tools, bringing them into the same unified presentation as native StarTeam artifacts.
  • Development Efficiency: With Tasktop Dev, developers are able to stay in their IDE where they are most productive, but still participate in the processes and workflows that management needs.
  • Increased Visibility for Management: More accurate and frequent developer status and time reporting provides management with increased visibility for project planning.
  • Enhanced Traceability: Organizations now have the flexibility to automatically create traceability between source code and change management artifacts from third-party systems. This allows for streamlined multi-tool processes and encourage informed decision making.
  • ALM Synchronization: StarTeam is now supported by the industry-standard Eclipse Mylyn ALM interoperability framework which provides real-time synchronization, configurable automatic conflict resolution, and support for more than two dozen ALM tools’ tracking and reporting facilities.

The key new features in StarTeam 12.0 unify ALM environments and provide management with valuable insight and predictability. StarTeam 12.0 creates a single source of the truth with real-time updates happening across any combination of ALM systems and tools.

Notes to Editors

Borland StarTeam product page: http://www.microfocus.com/products/StarTeam/index.aspx

Associated Press Release: “Tasktop provides Borland StarTeam customers with Mylyn-enabled ALM synchronization and improved developer productivity”: http://www.microfocus.com/aboutmicrofocus/pressroom/releases/pr20111129413422.asp

About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For additional information please visit www.microfocus.com.

Media Contacts:
Laura Stiff Kim Karelis
Micro Focus LEWIS PR
650-691-3153 617-226-8844
Laura.stiff@microfocus.com microfocusus@lewispr.com

Tasktop and Borland together at Gartner AADI

Micro Focus Borland’s new partnership with Tasktop shared the limelight, and dessert, at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit in Las Vegas.

As part of the StarTeam 12.0 launch activities, a few of the team headed across to Las Vegas to the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit, where we spent time talking with customers, partners and analysts.  One of our partners, Tasktop, was a silver sponsor at the event and spending time at their booth gave us a great opportunity to highlight some of the benefits of the new Borland Connector for Tasktop, which we co-announced at the event.

As well as great networking, Las Vegas offered many other attractions… including the largest piece of carrot cake we’ve ever seen.  Check out the Tasktop blog for photographic evidence!

The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from.

With 50 years of history and counting, COBOL is of course pervasive. But the number of lines of COBOL code isn’t the only big thing about COBOL. The language itself is vast and there are several dialects each with its own vocabulary and semantic behavior.

With 50 years of history and counting, COBOL is of course pervasive. But the number of lines of COBOL code isn’t the only big thing about COBOL. The language itself is vast and there are several dialects each with its own vocabulary and semantic behavior.

To shed some light on the sheer scale of the language, we looked into the dialects known to the Micro Focus COBOL compiler and found that there are over 20.

From mainframe dialects such as IBM’s Enterprise COBOL and Systems Application Architecture to ANSI 74, 85 and ISO2002 standards, there’s an almost dizzying array of dialects that have come about from the different standards bodies and platforms vendors.

And the number of reserved words in total? Over 1200 for all the dialects put together. Compare this to C# at less than 100 key words and about 50 for Java.

Keywords do for COBOL developers what APIs, functions, classes and methods might do for other languages. The difference is that COBOL does this using English language-like sentences and vocabulary.

To illustrate, these lines of code perform the same action:

COBOL:

open input invoice-file

C#:

FileStream fileStream = new FileStream(@”c:\invoice.dat”, FileMode.Open, FileAccess.Read);

To a non-COBOL developer the number of key words might seem daunting at first but in reality, this means that a developer who doesn’t know COBOL stands a fairly good chance of reading an existing application and, importantly, understanding it.

This is one of the many strengths of COBOL and contributes to its continued relevance in today’s business world. It means that a COBOL application written in any of those dialects can be found today running on Windows, Linux, Unix as native code or in JVM and .NET or in the cloud.

In terms of keywords, dialects and standards, COBOL proves that less isn’t necessarily more.

You’ll find a list of C# keywords here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/x53a06bb.aspx

And Java keywords here: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/java/nutsandbolts/_keywords.html

Micro Focus Delivers Next Generation Performance Testing of Mobile Web Applications

According to Forrester, mobile development has been a top five initiative in 2011 for nearly all enterprises.  A recent survey by the analyst firm showed that more than 50% of enterprises are most interested in using mobile applications or mobile optimized websites to reach out to their customers, and providing mobile support to employees isn’t far behind with 39% mobilizing employee intranets and 29% introducing mobile collaboration solutions. i Companies are challenged with delivering access to business applications 24/7, ensuring those applications continue to perform under peak loads to meet the ever-increasing expectation of users.  Micro Focus (LSE: MCRO.L), the leading provider of enterprise application modernization, testing and management solutions, today announced that SilkPerformer, its world class software application performance testing solution, now fully supports performance testing of mobile web applications.

“As the number of users accessing business applications via mobile devices increases, the challenge faced by the enterprise becomes ever more complex,” said Archie Roboostoff, Borland Solutions Portfolio Director at Micro Focus.  “Internet access is changing rapidly and device diversity is putting mixed loads on web sites.  Today’s users expect the same response times but websites behave differently when accessed by mobile devices depending on the operating system, browser and network service they have. This makes simulating peak demands and client complexity, as well as diagnosing system performance, harder than ever.  When you add testing peak demand loads from multiple global locations into the mix, the challenge is clear to see.”

Continuing, Roboostoff said: “Micro Focus SilkPerformer offers simulation capabilities for a variety of mobile phones, such as Android, iOS and Blackberry devices.  This is important because different screen sizes and input methods such as touch screens mean many web applications look different when loaded on a mobile device compared to a full site.  These mobile versions of a web page need to be treated as separate applications when performance testing as they have different performance implications on the back end.  Micro Focus SilkPerformer also simulates the bandwidth limitations of mobile network connections and supports all existing and upcoming mobile phone standards like GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, HSPA+ and LTE, while its Mobile Browser Simulation emulates mobile device traffic from different parts of the world.”

Whether load testing in the cloud, on premise or both, Micro Focus SilkPerformer mimics realistic user behaviour loads from just one browser, containing server resource and cost and delivering the best possible insight into system performance problems.  The solution delivers one integrated, visual representation of server performance diagnostics to aid rapid issue resolution and ultimately ensures optimized performance of business applications for the enterprise.

Micro Focus Testing Solutions Help iPass Deliver Quality and Always-on Connectivity to Enterprise Mobile Workers

iPass, a leading provider of enterprise mobility services, has deployed Micro Focus SilkPerformer and SilkTest to openly facilitate access from any device on any network while giving the enterprise essential visibility and control.

“As mobile device platforms proliferate within the enterprise, mobility solution providers must find ways to deliver highly complex solutions to customers at a faster pace,” explained Roboostoff. “The exemplary use of Silk by iPass is just one example of how we are helping enterprises outpace the building momentum of today’s mobility trend. In fact, the business advantages that Silk provides are felt right across iPass operations.”

To read more about how iPass is using Silk, see iPass case history.  For more information on SilkPerformer, visit: http://www.microfocus.com/silkperformer

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About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For additional information please visit www.microfocus.com

iThe State Of Application Development In Enterprise And SMBs, Forrester Research, Inc., April 11, 2011

Media Contacts

Media Contacts:
Alice Jackson or Alex Bishop Laura Stiff
Racepoint Group Micro Focus
+44 (0) 20 8811 2474 650 930 2114
microfocusuk@racepointgroup.com laura.stiff@microfocus.com

Game-changing technology to support core PL/I systems

The mainframe has historically been the natural choice to run mission-critical business applications for the enterprise. While developments in processor technology mean that Linux®, UNIX® and Windows Servers® have long been able to deliver mainframe performance at a fraction of the cost, as well as offering a more flexible environment to respond to business change, the options for CIOs for progress and development often remain constrained by the existing technology footprint of the mainframe environment. With many business-critical applications written for example in PL/I, prospects of moving such vital applications away from the mainframe have always been considered too daunting and risky a task to undertake.

It is estimated that annual operational expenditure on core enterprise systems written in PL/I exceeds $1bn. Despite this, many of the PL/I systems typically still exist because there are no packaged applications that are able to provide the unique and sophisticated functionality required. This means CIOs are reluctant to take the risk of rewriting or replacing them when such a high level of intellectual capital remains embedded within these systems.

Therefore CIOs typically remain limited to continuing to develop, test and deploy every PL/I application on the mainframe and swallow the phenomenal costs associated with this. In recent years, with organisations looking to tackle the mounting IT debt caused by years of tight budgets and cost reductions, addressing these issues that surround legacy mainframe applications is increasingly becoming a critical factor to success.

Fortunately a low-risk alternative to retaining, retiring, re-writing or replacing existing PL/I applications now exists – Micro Focus Server Enterprise Edition for PL/I – the only integrated cross platform PL/I system migration product on the market.

This product is the first complete, cross-platform migration solution that enables mainframe PL/I applications to be moved from an IBM® mainframe to Linux®, Unix® or Windows Server® platforms, with minimal change, where they can be operated for a fraction of the cost. It enables the bulk of PL/I application code to be migrated without change at a significantly reduced risk and provides support for COBOL and all other key IBM mainframe subsystems used by PL/I applications.

The benefit that this will bring for many IT departments is that they will be able to self-fund ongoing PL/I application modernisation by reinvesting a proportion of the annual operating cost savings, which can be as much as 70 percent, into modernisation and innovation.

By providing a mainframe PL/I application delivery and deployment environment off the mainframe, Micro Focus is changing the game – revolutionising how PL/I applications and key IT services are delivered. By retaining the existing intellectual property, by reducing the amount of change and therefore the risk, and by taking a huge amount of operating cost away, organisations are able to create an application infrastructure that is fit to deliver value for years to come.

First, First, First…

Written by Tod Tompkins

In late October, (relatively) new Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel made his first major public appearance to debut his “Future First” initiative. Expanding on former Federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s “Cloud First” policy, “Future First” will “jumpstart the government’s adoption of new technologies and approaches.” The ultimate goals of this initiative – which should unquestionably be the government’s focus – are to yield a higher return on IT investments, increase productivity and improve the way the government interacts with citizens. Mr. VanRoekel envisioned the possibility of “XML First,” “Web Services First,” and “Virtualize First.” First, first, first… (The written remarks from this speech can be found here.)

He also discussed the idea of a “Shared First” program aimed at eliminating waste and duplication to shift to “commodity IT, leverage technology, procurement and best practices across the whole of government, and build on existing investments rather than re-inventing the wheel.” Building on existing investments rather than re-inventing the wheel – this is the heart of the idea and is really what should be the focal point, especially given the immediate requirements for budget cuts.

What better way to leverage existing investments than to migrate the legacy systems and applications that have been powering government for years – often decades – to newer platforms, rather than scrapping them and starting from scratch. As an example (and I know I am getting down in the weeds) COBOL – a programming language that has been around since the Founding Fathers (I jest) – currently processes 70% of the world’s data and the average American interacts with a COBOL program 13 times per day (more facts can be found here). A simple COBOL migration to a newer platform can increase operational efficiency and save millions of dollars in the process. A Defense Department agency recently reduced its yearly mainframe costs from $12 million to $3 million per year.

I applaud Mr. VanRoekel for his vision and focus on making the government more efficient and effective. I support his approach and wish him the best of luck in his “Future First” push. I would, however, like to propose another “first” for consideration – “Cost Savings First.” What other “firsts” should the government consider pursuing? Please provide your feedback below or on our Facebook and Twitter sites.