zEnterprise series part 4 of 5: Make a Smart Move

As IT organizations seek to tackle the backlog of existing “lights-on” work and the drive towards innovation, the modernization of existing processes, workflow and technology is a certain consideration. The relentless push to compete strongly and keep up with customer expectation is forcing IT leaders to think twice about how technology can be used to meet new demand.  Change is constant.

The fourth in a series of five, this blog investigates how organizations using the Micro Focus Mainframe Express (MFE) product range – or older PC based mainframe development technology – can resolve existing challenges in their mainframe development environment, and how upgrading to Micro Focus’ latest zEnterprise development technology can enable even greater efficiency in the pursuit of ever-changing business objectives.

Let’s look at three crucial requirements of an effective mainframe application development environment, to see why moving from MFE to Enterprise Developer for zEnterprise could be a valuable step to take towards greater efficiency and innovation:

1. Use the right interface

Under MFE, development teams are working with efficient tools in a graphical environment. It is an intuitive, productive mainframe development system. However, this interface is still proprietary, and developers must learn it whether they are familiar with the mainframe or not. That learning cycle makes it hard to attract and train new staff – especially now, when finding the resources for mainframe COBOL programming is becoming even tougher.

A good blend
The Micro Focus Enterprise Developer product line uses industry standard development frameworks – Eclipse and Visual Studio – as the IDEs for the mainframe programmer. These new interfaces look better. They are a massive leap forward from alternative interfaces, especially traditional mainframe 3270 green screens[1], and represent the very latest in mainframe developer productivity. Providing an environment where inexperienced or non-COBOL developers can easily adapt to the COBOL language without learning proprietary mainframe development tools, will deliver a quicker return on investment.

2.
Ensure integrated mainframe connectivity

Even if developers are working as efficiency and productivity as possible with the graphical tools in MFE, there are still development activities that must be done on the mainframe. This can inhibit efficiency in the development process and ultimately result in developers drifting back to the mainframe for all other development tasks, as they gravitate towards a single interface.

Direct access to the mainframe
Enterprise Developer integrates the mainframe environment directly into the Eclipse IDE. This means developers can connect to the mainframe to perform tasks such as browsing or editing their data sets and submitting jobs. Edited code can reside either directly on mainframe or on the full mainframe development environment under Windows, or a mixture of the two, without leaving the IDE or learning new tools.

In a typical scenario, a developer can instantly access sources from the configuration management environments on the mainframe, within Enterprise Developer. They have the option to edit and submit these for compilation directly on the host, integrating any errors directly into the Eclipse editor. This is perfect for hot fixes or quick changes.

Alternatively, they can check out the source to their local Windows based environment for more extensive changes, or if they require local debugging and unit testing. The important point is that they remain within a single development environment and use the same tooling throughout.

3. Enable collaboration across applications

A typical mainframe development shop often consists of two distinct skill groups: the first group are familiar with traditional mainframe tooling and processes, and the other group know all the latest Java and Eclipse tooling and processes. These two separate groups rarely cross paths as their skills and processes are worlds apart. This lack of communication and collaboration is a hindrance to productivity and efficiency, as there are no savings in terms of scale, and having an integrated method of creating applications across the two different groups is difficult.

Difficult, but not impossible…

Bring COBOL and Java together

By leveraging the collaborative benefits of the industry-standard Eclipse IDE, Enterprise Developer enables COBOL and Java teams to work more closely than ever. Developers can use the same environment to build all elements of composite applications. Teams can inter-operate more closely, and there is no time wasted switching or learning new environments.

Further support for team collaboration in Enterprise Developer is the new Workflow Manager. This graphical modeling tool enables users to quickly customize the Eclipse-based user interface and directly integrate tools either on the mainframe or workstation.

Customizing the development environment ensures that familiar development workflows are integrated quickly. COBOL developers, being used to an older-style interface, may not be accustomed to the modern Eclipse interface. Java developers on the other hand will not be familiar with COBOL. Enterprise Developer for zEnterprise combines the two through familiar processes, so COBOL developers have the same application compilation and execution within Eclipse, and Java developers have a known environment through which COBOL can be demystified.

Revolutionizing zEnterprise development
Besides a fresh new modern interface with a choice of IDEs, mainframe connectivity, and developer collaboration, Enterprise Developer offers a good many other benefits which will set your organization on a revolutionary path towards mainframe innovation.

As well as all the features found in MFE – including local mainframe development on Windows, Enterprise Developer offers the latest in mainframe compatibility and a full function unit test environment. It provides core dump debugging for tracking down stubborn run time issues and seamless integration into Micro focus Enterprise Test Server. It has all the development tools you need to create enterprise applications, or move to a variety of UNIX and Linux platforms, on or off the zEnterprise environment. This enables customers to optimize every aspect of mainframe application delivery, while driving down costs and enhancing the development experience.

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”[2]
In the IT industry, ’change’ is a constant, abiding principle. Modernization is where IT meets continually evolving business needs. Revitalizing the development process delivers core business functions at the lowest operational cost while reducing associated risk, and vastly improving development productivity and efficiency.

By making sure the technology that keeps your organization in supreme working order is robust and future-proof, you’ll have the best chance of “keeping the lights on” and innovating. Enterprise Developer is at the heart of the Enterprise product set, a unique, comprehensive technology stack that modernizes z/OS application service delivery. Innovative technology enables customers to optimize all aspects of mainframe application delivery, driving down costs, removing bottlenecks and accelerating innovation.

See our white paper, Move up to Enterprise Developer for zEnterprise for a more detailed insight into how upgrading can improve the productivity and efficiency of your development environment even further.

Read the first, second and third blogs in this series.

Contact our team at Micro Focus now to launch into innovation.


[1] “Green screen” refers to host applications that were designed to interact with end users via terminals. The display colour on the terminal of these host applications was typically green on black.

[2] Benjamin Franklin.