You have 20 seconds to comply…

I think you’d better do what he says, Mr. Kinney

In the 1987 film Robocop, the enthusiastic compliance of Mr Kinney is ignored by the malfunctioning law-enforcement robot, ED-209, with fatal consequences. Many of the legal imperatives and regulations facing the IT world today are accompanied by an unmovable deadline and threats of punitive measures – the beleaguered IT team could be forgiven for feeling like another short-lived extra in a dystopian sci-fi movie. While the timeframe given typically exceeds 20 seconds , the deadlines are usually aggressive and non-negotiable, making the associated IT change project a high priority “must have” and the budget a “must spend”. Worse still, as evidence of economic and management frailty continues to beset many industries, regulatory bodies have “no shortage of excuses to launch … [a] clampdown”  with further compliance measures.

Comply with this

Compliance feels like a faintly vague term. What are we complying with, and who told us to do so? Here’s how one industry commentator defined compliance: The process of adherence to policies and decisions. Policies can be derived from internal directives, procedures and requirements, or external laws, regulations, standards and agreements. Consider now the following selection of regulatory or legislative changes that have emerged in the last decade or so:


Of course, this isn’t a one-off task. Many of these regulations require compliance not only in the first instance, but then also as part of an on-going audit and reporting process. So the “compliance work” is an annual event to build into the IT schedule. Add to this little list the efforts undertaken on in-house regulations including coding guidelines, standards adherence, code complexity criteria; it is no wonder that these efforts are forcing an unprecendented demand in IT simply to ‘keep the lights on’.

Getting Ahead of the Game
An untold variety of technical complexity awaits the intrepid IT team seeking to conform and comply with the latest round of regulations. However, such measures have a couple of key things in common:

• Core application code will need to change
• How data is stored will (usually) have to change
Irrespective of the new regulation or measure, extra elements that comprise the new activities need to be wired into the applications that currently provide that business function. It therefore holds that a fundamental approach – a lifecycle for change – is needed for IT teams to follow in order to plan and execute an effective compliance project:

1. Find it: Uncovering the breadth and depth of the required IT change
2. Fix it: Executing the change program as efficiently as possible
3. Test it: Establishing a full change validation process, incorporating data privacy needs

This lifecycle closely resembles the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) – unsurprisingly perhaps because there is, at the heart of both things, a major change to a core application required.

Find Your Best Practice

Having supported organizations find, fix and validate their large scale change programs since the days of Y2K and the Euro conversion, Micro Focus has provided an efficient, scientific and rapid solution for a variety of compliance activities. Whether the concern is determining the scope of the required changes, executing the application change effort itself, or establishing a secure and streamlined validation process, Micro Focus enables organizations to meet aggressive deadlines with greater confidence, enabled through smart technology.

Look out for the Micro Focus Compliance program.

[1] Harry Wilson, Daily Telegraph, 8th October 2012, “Bleak Future for the Banks of Tomorrow”






Je suis un rock star

Micro Focus won – and won big – at two marketing awards ceremonies last week.

The annual B2B awards in London were themed ‘Are you a B2B Rockstar?’ and Micro Focus responded with a chart-topping campaign.

The B2B Awards salute the world’s best design, advertising, graphic design and marketing and other headline acts included Oracle, Vodafone and Tata Communications.

Comedian Josh Widdicombe compered a fun evening, but winning awards in fields as competitive as these is no laughing matter. So we were pleased – and very proud – to prove our rock star credentials by blowing our competitors off stage in the headline category.

Anyone visiting our Newbury HQ can’t fail to spot Kiruba the Asian elephant performing her party trick in the atrium and if she threw her weight behind our efforts to win a prize it worked, ‘cause we nailed the big one….

… drum roll …

That’s right, folks – our mainframe solution ‘elephant’ campaign (scooped Grand Prix 2013 Award for ‘Best B2B Marketing Campaign of the Year’, ‘Best Use of Creative’ and was runner-up for ‘Best Product Launch’. As Kiruba herself would say – that’s quite a pile.

The campaign, developed by partner creative agency True, used a ‘balletic elephant’ as an easily-understood metaphor to illustrate how Micro Focus solutions can introduce new agility to the mainframe, an IT resource widely regarded as old and inflexible.

Kate ‘rock chick’ Nichols, Global Marketing Manager for the Mainframe solution at the time of the launch, said “The ‘elephant’ campaign added great visual impact to the launch. The creative and messaging provided exactly the right integrated approach and it successfully re-established brand awareness globally while driving the all-important sales pipeline.” It also kicked ass, she didn’t say.

And for an encore…

Meanwhile, over at the Inspire 2013 awards being held the same evening in Basingstoke, Purple – another Micro Focus marketing partner agency – were also winning ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’ award. This time it was for the Borland ‘Silk Performer Door Opener’, known internally as the helicopter campaign, which has already identified and booked many sales opportunities.

As Borland marketing programs manager Christina Langan said, “Global campaigns are never easy to execute but the proposition was strong enough to generate plenty of pipeline and major ROI. We were pleased with the enthusiasm with which Micro Focus offices around the world got behind this high-flying campaign”.

So it’s high-fives all round to our agency partners, but respect is also due to the marketing program managers who kept all that out-there creativity completely aligned with the channels our customers use and the messages they want to hear. Because as any tour manager will tell you, keeping the talent in order, on stage – and away from the rider – at the right time is never easy, so Kate Nichols and Christina Langan deserve the big (metaphorical) bouquets we’re giving them here.

Thank you Newbury – you’ve been a wonderful audience….

Micro Focus COBOL Developer Days: COBOL’s Future Starts Here – and so does yours

Jackie Anglin from Micro Focus gives you the low-down on our upcoming Micro Focus COBOL Developer Days

Do you want to stay at the forefront of technology? If so, you’re looking in the right place. COBOL Developer Days are the perfect opportunity for developers to discover the latest trends in enterprise application development and the technology which is driving COBOL’s future.  And believe me – the future of COBOL is looking brighter than ever.

What’s in it for me?

This one-day technical workshop equips you with the insight and knowledge you need to take your applications forward. Ask questions – and we mean lots. Talk to our COBOL product team (see below) and network with fellow COBOL users. More importantly, see Visual COBOL in action – it’s much better than The Hunger Games movie, we promise. Also, learn what its innovative capabilities can do for you. Have you met Developer Dave?  He’s innovating with Visual COBOL and so can you.

We’ll talk about:

  • Addressing the forces of change – we’re sure you know what they are but how do you tackle them head on?
  • First steps to getting started with Visual COBOL – take that first step with Scot Nielsen and Mike Bleistein – something not to miss
  • Building managed code apps without changing your native code – yep, we said WITHOUT changing your native code
  • Application development in the cloud – see how easy it is to deploy COBOL apps to the cloud
  • Transform your User Interface without rewriting your app
  • And, a special ‘Community’ chosen topic where you get your chance to pick  from leveraging web services, moving your applications to the cloud, working with object-oriented COBOL, or exploring CICS.NET and Batch.NET capabilities.

Ask the experts

Our Visual COBOL experts are on hand to help you get started on your journey. But who exactly are they?

Scot Nielsen, Product Manager for COBOL solutions including Net Express, Server Express and Visual COBOL.

Not to be mistaken for Val Kilmer. So what does he actually do (other than look exactly like Val Kilmer)?  Scot defines the technical strategy for the Micro Focus COBOL product line including Visual COBOL. Yep, he’s ‘that guy’.  A great guy to grab a coffee with during the day, who enjoys shed building (I have no clue what that means either. Maybe it’s something the English like to do on rainy days).

Ed Airey, Product Marketing Director for COBOL solutions.

Ed is responsible for the Visual COBOL Go to Market planning, development and execution. He has been focusing on the COBOL skills crisis facing many of our corporate organizations, investigating how to best overcome this challenge through both technology and community engagement. Be sure to ask Ed for a Little Book of COBOL. On his days off – which are very rare – you can find Ed enjoying a baseball or hockey game. He’s the calm, cool and collected one though.

Michael (Mike) Bleistein, Principal Architect, Product Management.

Michael is an EXPERT – we put that in CAPS because he’s that good – in the mainframe field when it comes to COBOL/CICS. Currently he specializes in modernization through .NET and SOA, helping customers understand Micro Focus solutions and how they can be used to combat their business problems. We count on Mike to remind us daily and hourly that you don’t have to take the ‘B’ out of COBOL to be COOL. This is your cue to laugh – he loves it.

Jim Lane, Senior Solutions Engineer specializing in Microsoft Technologies.

He has over twenty-five years – that’s a long time for such a young guy – of IT experience as a software developer, systems architect and systems integrator. Jim is an MCSD with a keen eye for VB.Net and web based development. As well as being a Practicing Member of the Worldwide Institute of Software Architects (WWISA), he travels the world providing support for Micro Focus customers. Whether listening to or playing, Jim is always jamming to music – so ask him for playlist recommendations. Jim lives in Atlanta, the best city in the South. Even if I do say so myself!

So at this point, I need to ask: have you registered for the upcoming Developer Days in Boston on December 10, or in Washington DC, December 12? Register now.

Tweet your thoughts on the future of COBOL and application development @MicroFocus and look out for the #COBOLrocks hashtag. You can also follow Developer Days on Twitter #DevDays. Be sure to give our COBOL experts some Twitter-love.  They love it – honestly they do.

The TESTA Awards – where X Factor met the SDLC

Many of those reading this may well have come along and this blog is a wrap-up, both for those whose memories of the occasion may be a little hazy and for those who now realise they should have gone! So here’s what you missed.

Micro Focus were proud to sponsor the TESTA Awards dinner, held yesterday at the Marriot Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square.

Many of those reading this may well have come along and this blog is a wrap-up, both for those whose memories of the occasion may be a little hazy and for those who now realise they should have gone! So here’s what you missed.

Hooray for us

Much of the work of testing and development professionals is unseen and unheralded. Like the role of the goalkeeper in football, this work can go unnoticed until something goes wrong. So these awards, a first for the European market, are a rare and welcome opportunity to shine a light on the dedication and professionalism of the people who make so much of what we take for granted possible – and help many of us to make a living from this industry.

And if you’re going to shout about your industry, then do it properly – which is what TESTA had in mind when they hired Peter Dickson, the professional voice-over artist heard on The X Factor and, most recently, Britain’s Got Talent. (And it sure has, as the evening proved.)

We all got to enjoy good food, glamour and the surreal experience of listening to the voice of The Price is Right describing ‘the complexities of deploying innovative tooling within risk-based testing’.

Come on down!

With every table sold out, there was a great spread of attendees. Every size of business was represented, from major players like Cognizant, with all their corporate clout, right through to the hard-working SMEs with agility and imagination on their side.

This diversity was reflected in the spread of winners – there’s a full list here. The background murmur was of intense discussion rather than dinner party chatter, a sign of how determined the guests were to get the most out of a rare networking opportunity.

There was plenty of social media ‘noise’ around  #TESTA with many people contributing by smartphone – a subject dominating the dinner chat of many attendees – as Chris Livesey took the stage for his keynote speech.

The future – a Borland perspective

A memorable twenty minutes followed as Chris gave us the Borland assessment of the state of the nation as it stands – and where we’ll be in a year or two’s time. Using a manufacturing analogy Chris described the challenges of managing complexity within the supply chain and how the fresh challenges of new platforms and the drive towards mobile will force everyone in the room to raise their collective game.

It’s already an industry driven by detail, and Chris foresees the need for a significant percentage increase across the key areas of precision, control and validation if we’re going to keep up with the demands of the customers’ briefs. And as for the unknowns…

We shall fight them in the silos …

It was a compelling speech that clearly, but subtly, positioned Borland as being aware of the need to be reactive enough to create – and then recreate – tooling to meet the fluctuating needs of the industry as it matches the drive to new platforms.

As the final act of the evening, John Lewis IT received the Borland European Software Testing Award and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – although some of this raw emotion could be attributed to those settling their drinks bills…!

It was an enjoyable evening that could prove to be the launchpad of some interesting collaborations and an exercise in taking the pulse of our industry it proved that we’re in good shape and with a healthy prognosis for the future.

Thanks for coming – and see you all next year.

Moving to Visual COBOL: 5 top tips


Any change brings challenges. Moving software is no different. This blog highlights how Micro Focus is helping supporting users looking to move up to Visual COBOL.

A transition is never easy

Switching is not easy. Switching utility providers, switching mortgage or pension – all are time consuming and to be honest, a bit of a hassle. Even with the new regulations about switching banks, most of us don’t seem inclined to take the plunge. A prime and frequent example is switching to a new mobile device – it’s certainly not an easy transition; photos, accounts, apps, contact numbers are just a few things that need to be transferred to your new mobile device.

Upgrading your software will pose similar challenges, but the benefits of making the change will far outweigh any transition doubts. You can also make your transition virtually pain free by following our five top tips for upgrading to Visual COBOL:

1. Web-based training

Explore our comprehensive Visual COBOL  web-based training. Whether you’re looking to learn how best to use the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) or how to use and deploy COBOL assets in a .NET environment – we’ve got it all covered. See here
for further details and put your mind at ease.

2. Visual COBOL blogs

We understand that sometimes it gets tough, and all you need is a bit of extra guidance to give clarity. The answer: Micro Focus Visual COBOL blogs. The Micro Focus blog site is dedicated to you and covers a wide variety of topics and current industry challenges – from dealing with IT debt to why COBOL is still the language of choice.

You’ll certainly find something of interest, with blogs written by many of our staff… from expert product managers to commercial managers to product marketing gurus. To get started, take a look at our blog, Standing the Test of Time.

 3. The Micro Focus Community Site

The Micro Focus Visual COBOL community site is the perfect place to actively engage with other Visual COBOL developers and enthusiasts, with over 14,000 community members (and continually growing) and 4,000 monthly Visual COBOL visitors you’ll be sure to find the information and help you need. Our thriving community site has specialists swapping valuable hints and tips daily – to be part of the Visual COBOL community and reap the knowledge rewards join as a member today.


4. Visual COBOL Case Studies    

We’ve helped many organizations transition to Visual COBOL before so there’s no need to worry about endless issues which are usually associated with the implementation of new software. We’re confident in our ability, although we understand that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immediately confident in us – after all it’s a big investment

There’s no need to fret about your move up to Visual COBOL – many hundreds of customers before you have already taken the leap of faith with us. Find out how many of our customers have already made a smooth transition to Visual COBOL here.



If detailed bed-time reading isn’t your thing, take a look at some of our customer, partner and analyst testimonials here.

5.  Visual COBOL’s product secrets… 

Visual COBOL is so rich with capability; it is unlikely you can learn all its secrets quickly. With our latest Visual COBOL release (2.2) just around the corner, our Visual COBOL Product Manager has produced two informative articles (one for Eclipse users, one for Visual Studio users), designed to give you some hands-on insight into the best kept secrets within Visual COBOL.

It’s as easy as that…

Transitioning to a world-class product may feel like a daunting prospect, but we believe your transition to Visual COBOL can be smooth – and we’re here to support you as much as possible. The journey you’re about to take, with the reassurance of partners, customers and existing community members all there to help you (not to mention us!) should accelerate your transition to a more innovative environment faster than you’d imagined.

Think you’re nearly ready? Why not take the first step on your era of innovation with a free product trial?

Got any other tips you think we’ve forgotten? Let us know in the comments section below.

Borland Software Customer Day: Altitude slickness

Bringing a new meaning to the phrase ‘elevator pitch’, yesterday Borland Software hosted a select group of customers and developers nearly 400 ft above Millbank in Central London for the inaugural Borland ‘Better Together’ event. Because, to achieve an all-round perspective, you need a room with a view and Altitude’s viewing platform is modelled on the Empire State Building (except it’s much harder to see Central Park).

Bringing a new meaning to the phrase ‘elevator pitch’, yesterday Borland Software hosted a select group of customers and developers nearly 400 ft above Millbank in Central London for the inaugural Borland ‘Better Together’ event. Because, to achieve an all-round perspective, you need a room with a view and Altitude’s viewing platform is modelled on the Empire State Building (except it’s much harder to see Central Park).

Borland software guru Gregor Rechberger and fellow product managers gave the visiting ‘Borlanders’ the lowdown on all that’s new with the Silk portfolio and Atlas product sets.

Show and tell

Customers like to share experiences with other users and Borland want to know what all of them are saying. Does the software deliver everything our users want? Does it reflect what the market needs? That’s why we were so pleased to hear from Borland customers Cegedim and Fujitsu who spoke highly of Silk Central’s effective test management.

Anyone working across multiple teams or looking to make improvements through tracking and reporting, will have noted the benefits our guests enjoyed using Borland tools across the whole SDLC.

After a splendid lunch (no danger of Altitude sickness here) delegates were treated demos of Silk Performer Cloudburst, Silk Central and Caliber. Becky Wetherill, the go-to girl for all things testing, outlined the latest thinking around test management. (In a rapidly-shifting landscape it’s good to get some navigation tips.)

From Altitude’s observation deck it’s possible to see as far eastwards as Ford’s old Dagenham car plant in Essex – and there were plenty of potential panel-beaters at this event. Noel Slane hosted the discussion for a panel of Borland industry experts, and with separate QA events held throughout the day, there were plenty of opportunities for customers and their Borland hosts to swap knowledge.

Hip to be square

The launch of Borland Credits – the innovative, pay-as-you-go, use-only-when-you-need-it payment package tied in with the release of Silk Performer CloudBurst– was behind the Cash Cube competition, pictured here. Richard Sargent of Cisco walked away from the Cash Cube with a Kindle Fire HD. If testing projects were a chocolate factory, then these would be the golden tickets.

As the sun – and a few drinks – went down, we rounded out the day with a lively panel discussion. It was an interesting platform for us to better understand the issues our customers face in delivering quality software in an agile, changing world – and for our customers to see how Micro Focus tools can help to meet those challenges with leading edge software.

But what goes up, must come down and we finished around 6pm, looking back on a great event. We’re looking forward to hitting new heights in product development using the insight we’ve gained from this session.

We’re also thinking about where to have the next one – we should be more inclusive of our vertigo sufferers. Thanks to everyone who came and made the experience so memorable.

Easing the zEnterprise modernization journey

Ground-breaking performance and unrivalled flexibility are just two benefits of the new IBM zEnterprise mainframe range. How does Micro Focus add value to this new setup and help organizations get even more from their enterprise environment…?

Next-generation mainframe power

The IBM zEnterprise range of mainframes represents the next generation of powerful, scalable and flexible enterprise-class mainframe environments – and a significant investment by IBM in its customer base. And they’re not stopping there.

IBM recently announced further improvements to the zEnterprise environment: their support for big data analytics and cloud is a clear demonstration of IBM’s continuing commitment to their flagship products.

We have already looked at the power of zEnterprise environment, the efficiency of the Eclipse development IDE – and how Micro Focus harnesses both environments to create Enterprise Developer for IBM zEnterprise, a unique, streamlined application development capability. Power and control – what more could you want?

You want this

Now, the latest refresh of the Micro Focus Enterprise product set adds to the enduring value and flexibility of zEnterprise.

How? By addressing the application innovation and modernization needs of IBM mainframe development and delivery teams with application knowledge, user interface, development, test and workload deployment tools that boost the efficiency of business application delivery.

The refresh of the Enterprise product set covers a variety of products –

Rocks in the road

The journey of enterprise application modernization is shaped by the clients’ challenges. These “rocks in the road” can impact service delivery and business innovation, and potentially can occur at any stage of the application delivery cycle.

Whether the issue is system knowledge, the ability to execute change, the pace of delivery, challenges with testing, or even the effort of managing production workload, there are ways of improving processes and supporting technology to help reduce the backlog and support new initiatives (see Figure 1). In short, we are aiming to make that journey obstacle-free:

Fig 1


Micro Focus has helped hundreds of clients tackle difficult operational challenges while protecting core IT assets to evolve their core systems. The latest product refresh of the Enterprise solution seeks to tackle all these challenges, easing the journey overall.

Streamlining zEnterprise application delivery

While mainframe application infrastructure is seen as reliable and robust, providing an ever-present core business service, it is also true that this infrastructure (and the process for updating it) is highly complex and difficult to manage cost-effectively and efficiently.

So the Micro Focus Enterprise product set now streamlines the key mainframe application lifecycle activities even further. As of right now, organizations can expect greater potential and value from their zEnterprise infrastructure – and experience bigger efficiency gains.

Working across the Enterprise application delivery lifecycle, this fully-refreshed Micro Focus technology removes bottlenecks, improves IT efficiency and accelerates delivery cycles, while reducing costs and resource burden.

Highlights of the latest releases include:

  • Critical analysis phase results can be moved, via Eclipse, directly into your core system development environment, providing a continuous workflow across the key lifecycle phases of Analysis and Execution/Change
  • New capabilities are provided in the Enterprise products for improved usability, mainframe compatibility, integration and configuration
  • Enterprise Analyzer includes a brand new web-based client and Eclipse-based plug-ins to provide greater availability and support for a broader range of user profiles
  • Many new capabilities result from direct customer requests, including Eclipse and Visual Studio IDE updates and new 3rd party software and operating system support.

Streamlining zEnterprise application value

While much of the Enterprise product set targets the IT community – specifically developers and analysts, the flexibility within the new technology expands its remit beyond the walls of the IT department. Why? Because sometimes a major technology-related challenges occur not in IT, but in the business.

The operational side of the business may suffer from inefficiencies caused by old applications, with poor interfaces slowing down important business processes. Dealerships, call centres and order processing teams may face complex and cumbersome green screen systems that take far too long to process a single client request. We’ve all experienced it and come away with a negative view of the company involved.

So for this client, the change requirement does not affect the application or code, but works a simple refresh at the user interface (UI) level. Challenges such as low user functionality (look-ups, drop downs, mouse control), badly designed screens and inadequate platform/device support (typically green screen only) cause operational efficiencies even though the core application is sound. Step forward Micro Focus Rumba.

The Rumba family addresses mainframe application interface challenges by enabling older-style 3270 or related interfaces to be updated, streamlined and rendered on a variety of devices including desktop, web and mobile.

While the changes seem radical – and the results are certainly remarkable – the work can be undertaken without affecting the program logic of the application. Do it right and you have a rapid and low-risk way of providing a first stage of core system modernization. Your journey is well underway.

Explore the possibilities

Your Enterprise modernization journey will be shaped by your own requirements and will look different to your contemporaries. But there has never been a better time to explore how Micro Focus can help you.

For more information, visit

The future of the workplace: BYOD


The rise of BYOD to the point of being a de-facto standard in today’s corporate world is causing a shift in employee and corporate culture. But also it is directly affecting how core IT systems are provided. This blog discusses the race is on to deal with the unplanned impacts of BYOD.

Paperless office

We’re constantly moving closer to achieving the notion of a paperless office – and now with the move towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) it doesn’t seem too far away. After all, why use a notepad and pen if you have a handheld tablet device?

According to studies, 89% of IT departments enable BYOD in some form. It’s highly likely that BYOD will feature – policy or not – within your organization in some form. While many organizations provide their employees with some devices – usually a mobile and laptop, it is not uncommon for staff to use their own personal technology when working, in addition to any standard issue kit.

BYOD here for the long-haul

With fresh new technology being introduced so frequently, and people becoming more and more gripped by their sparkling new devices, it’s not surprising that people are bringing them into work. Why? Who knows – maybe better ease of use in comparison to their work devices? Despite the reason, organizations are having to face the issue head on – should they embrace BYOD, or ignore it and hope it’s just a temporary trend.

BYOD does seem to be here for the long-haul, although with the growing demands of employees organizations may have to restrict such policy. CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) embraces all the attractive aspects BYOD has, although gives IT more control and allows them to support a chosen few instead of any device employees may have – and depending on the size of your organization that could provide real difficulties.

Although as daunting as implementing a BYOD or even a CYOD policy may seem, there are a number of benefits for the organization – increased productivity from employees, save money from costs savings and a more flexible workforce to name a few.

But what about Security?

It’s not all rosy, right? There are known challenges organizations face as a result of the move to a BYOD environment:

Security is a widely talked about issue surrounding BYOD – (Just look on twitter: each #BYOD tweet is either followed or preceded by some reference to security). Security is a hot topic for BYOD. Supporting a new array of devices poses a big security risk – what happens if an organizations’ data is misplaced, on a train, in a café – there have been many very widely-publicized examples.  We recognize security is an important factor while considering BYOD, although many avoid or simply don’t identify the importance of the effect of BYOD on current IT infrastructure…

What about Integration?

BYOD has a major knock-on effect on how everything currently works, with significant required changes in terms of integration with current IT infrastructure. Employees want to be able to do everything they can currently do on their work device, although now with their IOS mini tablet, Android mobile or Windows device. For IT, this is a headache. How do you deal with a single type of device let alone many different types of devices?

Furthermore, many of the core business IT functions and applications are likely to be running on a zEnterprise z/OS system, accessed through well-defined asynchronous links and well-established security protocols. These applications, of course, are themselves well-defined, if somewhat dated. Their function key, monochrome operation is a far cry from modern device-friendly interfaces.

With an army of staff (not to mention customers) wishing to access core mainframe applications via their personal devices – for an overworked IT team, this represents an unprecedented additional burden, just to “support BYOD”.

Bridging the Old and the New: Impossible?

How can personal devices access the applications held on the mainframe? Can all forms of device access the mainframe, or do we consider a CYOD roll-out? Can the mainframe handle the changes? Will a BYOD (or possibly CYOD) strategy adversely affect the mainframe set-up?

Unquestionably the introduction of mobile devices into the workplace will challenge the agility of many critical legacy applications, right? Wrong. Many organizations get fooled into thinking their ‘green screens’ (3270/5250 terminals) will not be compatible with their employees modern devices and therefore result to rewriting entire applications or purchasing a middleware solution – this is time consuming, very risky and extremely expensive.

Embracing BYOD with Rumba +

Rumba + Mobile is the first mainframe user interface (UI) modernization application for tablet devices. The new solution enables organizations to quickly modernize zEnterprise-based 3270 green-screen applications on mobile devices. The application interfaces can also be streamlined to reduce the user effort. The newly-presented interfaces quickly improve the end user experience, boost end-user efficiency and bring a modern look and feel to legacy business applications, all without the need to change application code or use specialist development skills.

BYOD may feel like it casts a dark shadow over existing operations, but Rumba’s low-risk approach to modernization allows new devices to “plug in” to existing core application infrastructure and make your BYOD implementation a much more viable prospect.

Click here for more information on Rumba +.

Is COBOL still the same old animal?

It’s a question we hear a lot. And for those of you familiar with COBOL, you’ll know that the answer is ‘far from it’. In fact, just like any other business critical programming language, COBOL is continually updated, modified and enhanced to keep up with the fast-pace of demands which the industry puts on it. You can read more about that in our blog, ‘Can IT face the future, living with the past?’.

Is COBOL still the same old animal?

Watch our latest video to find out. If you like it, please share it with your family, friends and social networks.

The next generation

Visual COBOL 2.2 is the latest update to our existing COBOL product and will be released on Friday, November 15. If you’d like to hear more about the latest release, join our webinar and hear from the Product Team.

Register here:

Agile Methodology Today (is mostly not very Agile)

This is not a personal judgement, but is symptomatic of being selective in how change is done in most companies. Most companies understand there to be many benefits with the adoption of agile methods in a company, but equally many would struggle to clearly state how those benefits are delivered. Without that understanding, the headlines become the detail, and initiatives are started with the headlines in mind, not the practices themselves. I hear things like this a lot:

Many companies I meet are going, or have gone, agile – but almost all of them are not.

This is not a personal judgement, but is symptomatic of being selective in how change is done in most companies. Most companies understand there to be many benefits with the adoption of agile methods in a company, but equally many would struggle to clearly state how those benefits are delivered. Without that understanding, the headlines become the detail, and initiatives are started with the headlines in mind, not the practices themselves. I hear things like this a lot:

  • “we incorporate many of the agile practices here”
  • “we do agile project management
  • “the 3-month iteration”
  • “Agile PMO”
  • “agile does away with writing down requirements

In reality, transitioning a team or whole company to agile is to immerse in it completely, but the trend is more to dip a toe in the water, or extract the elements of it which seem less disruptive to the existing methods and approaches. While it’s clear that this is a way to balance the risk and disruption of change, one of the most rewarding outcomes of the transition to agile is the thinking that is forced on people to consider which of the things they do are truly worthwhile, and which are a result only of the way they work. As Jack Welch of GE famously stated, “Willingness to change is a strength even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while”. For most organisations, transitioning to agile methodology will create this “total confusion” since it should affect almost everything they do, including not just their internal processes but right through to the way they manage their customer relationships and partnerships.

Agile is not a passing trend, or at least should not be, since its value is robust and is sustained on much more than the way an organisation sees itself – much more importantly its sustained on the way that it affects the organisation’s ability to deliver better products and services, faster, at optimal cost. The caution is that going “Selectively Agile” will not probably affect very much at all, and may result in a company resorting to other approaches or solutions having decided that agile is not for them. This would be a missed opportunity – since agile offers substantive change more than any of its predecessors have over the last 20 years, and if we refer to the market evaluations such as the Chaos manifesto, the evidence is that all of that effort, invention and innovation has not really improved the capability of the industry at all.

So while we celebrate many new ideas, achievements and innovative solutions in these awards, we should not lose sight of the truly important things that we must strategically pursue as an industry that will provide real, sustainable improvement. Continual effort to make traditional waterfall, PMO-driven or command-and-control approaches workable in today’s marketplace will surely only become harder and harder.

Chris Livesey


Terminal Emulation: A brand new view?

Jordan Ashman explores the history, current state and future direction of Terminal Emulation whilst introducing Rumba+ in the Micro Focus blog.

Who uses terminal emulators? We’re in the 21st century

Often people question terminal emulators as being outdated and a thing of the past. Although contrary to belief, the terminal emulator is very much alive. Why? Because the mainframe is prevalent. Mainframes to this day are used largely to store significant data – data that needs to be accessed in order for professionals to do their daily tasks. Terminal emulators are used everywhere – call centre administrators, employees needing to access applications on central computers and doctors retrieving test results are a few examples.

Terminal Emulation:  A brand new view

There are plenty of words and phrases in IT which assume knowledge on the part of the reader. In the mainframe world, one of those is ‘Terminal Emulator’. For those who aren’t sure what a terminal emulator is, it’s software which imitates the behaviour of terminal hardware[1], so users can access mainframes whenever they need to from any connected PC. The terminal has come a long way since the days of single functioning hardware. This blog explores how ‘green screen’[2] terminal emulation has evolved and transformed into a highly productive and feature rich capability.

Not so dumb

Terminal emulation originated in the 1960’s, in a big room filled with mainframes. Users could access the processing power, memory and software of these mainframes by connecting to them via a fixed terminal. These terminals – or dumb terminals – consist of cathode ray monitors and separate keyboards, where users entered text-based commands which were delivered to the mainframe, before showing the mainframe’s response. The monitors are often referred to as ‘green screens’, as the early screens used green phosphor based cathode ray tubes – often via 3270 or 5250 terminals[3].

Through significant advances in technology, mainframes held onto their validity with a tighter grip, and remain highly valued today. Online systems need terminals in order to access the mainframe – but the high cost, incompatibility and bulkiness of fixed hardware terminals meant that things needed to change. With the disruptive arrival of the PC – its user-friendly interfaces and multifunctional capabilities captivating the world of technology – a solution to incorporate it was born: terminal emulation.

Further evolution: from ‘green screen’ to multi-colored, multi-device access

Modest configuration ability aside, mainframe application builders and end-users alike were looking to add greater control and efficiency. Today, a terminal emulator provides the bridge when a new application needs to communicate with a so-called legacy application. Terminal emulation isn’t just terminal emulation any more.

With technology rapidly evolving, it’s important for organizations to keep up – to extend the value of older technology by bridging it with new, while resolving inefficiencies present in the user interface. Organizations are looking to modernize the outdated green screen applications to include an attractive modern interface, increasing productivity and enhancing user experience. Furthermore, a new generation of savvy end-users are starting to demand application access from a variety of platforms – web pages, PC applications and even mobile devices.

Meet the Rumba family: Micro Focus Rumba+

Rumba is the world’s most widely-used terminal emulator and UI modernization technology. It’s the risk-free, cost-effective enabler for streamlining business process. Our latest release, Rumba+ provides all the features of Rumba although with some extras. Rumba+ gives the usual benefits of a terminal emulator although with enhanced features to vastly improve the user experience, while allowing access to your business applications on the move.  Green screen applications are reached through Windows, iPad and web, and modern WPF controls, such as VOIP or Google Maps for instance instantly improves the end user experience and enables faster execution of tasks. It enables access – from anywhere – to modern apps that drive the business. Rumba+ takes terminal emulation to new levels.

Seeing your apps in a different light

See for yourself how Micro Focus Rumba+ addresses some of the daunting challenges faced by organizations today and bridges the gap between old and new technology, enabling the green screen app to break into the modern world, so its value can be retained.

Click on our short introduction video to see what you can do with your core ‘green screen’ apps using Rumba+.



[1] Usually referred to as ‘dumb’ terminal hardware.

[2] ‘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, thus the denomination of green screen applications.

[3] 3270 and 5250 terminals were known as ‘intelligent’ terminals, as they had the ability to interpret escape sequences in order to position the cursor and control the display.