Transforming the Enterprise, One User at a Time

With so many new trends emerging in the mainframe world, is the end user being forgotten?

The mainframe world. The opportunities are endless, the possibilities limitless. Correspondingly, expectations from the business are usually ambitious. However, meeting those expectations is anything but easy. There are lots of issues to contend with: the volume and diversity of required change, managing a bewildering system complexity, often with limited investment, and typically in the fact of aggressive timescales. But while IT team scramble to determine the best ways to tackle things and what to do first, the rest of the business sees it as navel-gazing.

So what is the business asking for? After all, the technology is just there to enable the business. What does the user community really think about the IT service it receives?

But wait, what about those emerging trends we need to exploit to capitalize on our competitive advantage? What about the next generation of technology that IT need to innovate to secure our future growth?

Let’s explore a list of those emerging trends and consider how IT can satisfy the demands of the most important of critics – the end user.

BYOD

In a previous blog, we described the phenomenal rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and how it is being embraced by many organizations. You want easy access, you want availability, you want power and control as a user. Access to core apps need to be instantaneously provided on your device of choice, without further burden on the overworked development teams. Safe and secure access to core mainframe apps, from your chosen device. What is needed is technology that can embrace BYOD without compromising on mainframe resilience. What can provide all of this? Rumba+. Tick.

Mobile Computing

With mobile devices spreading faster than any other consumer technology in history, everyone wants to ‘go mobile’. You want a mobile workforce, you want flexibility, accessibility and agility. You want safe and secure access to core mainframe apps, from mobile devices, whenever, wherever. Rumba+. Tick.

End-User Computing

IT just isn’t cutting it. Its reputation is through the floor. It can’t deliver updates quickly enough, and the rest of the business is complaining. Users deride the so-called enhancements to the applications because they look archaic. The balance of power is shifting, IT is no longer setting the agenda on technology. The business teams and marketing leaders are requesting specifics and tech-savvy end users are pushing the boundaries each week. Pent-up demand for innovation is rising. Provide those ground-breaking new facilities they need, quickly. Find the quick wins and the innovative improvements the user community needs. Regain the reputation. Innovate, quickly and without risk. Rumba+. Tick.

IT Skills

Building smart new interfaces takes time. Expensive programming time. Building points of integration between smart new interfaces and existing back-office (mainframe-based) systems is just as tricky. Setting up and deploying new user services in a Java application server is hardly straightforward either. IT skills to support a ‘home grown’ innovation such as new user applications are expensive and not always available. Relying on costly and time-consuming efforts like this is inefficient and risky. If only there was a way to get those required user changes without needing specialist skills. Rumba+. Tick.

IT as a Service (ITaaS)

IT is constantly in demand. And when treated as a separate enterprise within the organization, there are additional pressures to achieve. Heavy reliance and continuous demands, issues and requests puts IT in a tricky position. They must juggle the never-ending requirements. And, with emphasis always on the line of business, there’s often very little time left to innovate.

To top it off, costs are often tightly controlled, with the requirement to act as a profit centre. Therefore how can IT possibly build new applications – or even re-write them – with all these constraints? The solution is technology which allows existing applications to be modernized quickly and easily, without any requirement for coding or specialist development knowledge. Rumba+. Tick.

The Modern Mainframe

The IBM mainframe has come a long way in the 50 years it’s been around. The modern mainframe can handle far larger quantities of data, process vast application estates, support a cloud infrastructure, and provide unprecedented levels of flexibility and return on value. A vast improvement in the technology hasn’t, however, equated to the same improvements in user experience, with tired old character-based user interfaces still widely used. Imagine having the option to modernize your user interface with all the features and controls of modern interfaces, and then having it available on desktop, web and mobile. You guessed it. Rumba+. Tick.

Rumba+

In a mainframe world with endless opportunities yet constant business challenges and emerging trends, Rumba+ helps tick all the boxes. Rumba+ is where green screen apps meet modern interfaces, accelerating efficiency and enhancing the user experience. Provide core system access from Windows, iPad or your web browser – without the risks of new code or reprogramming.

See for yourself how Rumba+ addresses your business issues with our ‘Top 5 Reasons to move to Rumba+’.

Our Community

Where can you go to exchange ideas and collaborate with over 15000 peers?  The Micro Focus and Borland Community!  Where can you gather valuable information about the product you are using and view helpful product videos?  The Micro Focus Knowledge Base!  Our Community Site covers all Micro Focus product areas and provides our users the ability to directly engage with our Development and Customer Care crew.  Whether you are reading a blog, Knowledge Base article, or a forum post, you are bound to find something interesting or new.

Now, come meet some of the Micro Focus Community Family:

Neil McMurtry is a Senior Product Engineer, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  You can bump into Neil in many places on the Borland Community Site, but you are most likely to find Neil answering customer questions on the Silk Performer Forum, as Neil has 9 years of expertise with Silk Performer.  Interested in learning how to record an application using a mobile device with Silk Performer?  Check out Neil’s short video here.  Are you in the mood to watch TV?  Stop by TheBorlandSoftware on YouTube.

Or, perhaps, Visual COBOL is more your cup of tea?  Then Chris Glazier is your man.  Chris is our resident expert for the Visual COBOL product, and, is a walking and talking COBOL encyclopedia.  Come see for yourself!  You can ask Chris questions in the Visual COBOL Forum and view Chris’ Visual COBOL in a Nutshell videos for inspiration and guidance. Try and stump Chris with a hard question, it will be difficult!

Not only can you interact with our Support Team, but you can directly engage with our Research and Development staff.  Anil Peres-Da-Silva is a familiar face to the Community who stops in daily to contribute to the StarTeam Forum by answering customer questions and posting articles.  Feel free to peruse Anil’s collection of article topics, including The StarTeam SDK Object Model and stcmd – a stateful-command-line-with-a-rich-new-swl-like-grammar.

 

Drop in and see what the fuss is all about!   http://community.microfocus.com/

Accessing business value with Rumba – the customers’ view

In our Rumba blog series so far we have explored the history of terminal emulation, in our blog Terminal Emulation: A brand new view?, then looked at key trends shaping the workplace today (The future of the workplace: BYOD).  This, our third and final blog of the series, takes some of those theories and concepts and looks at a few Rumba customer stories.

Now entering its 50th year, the IBM mainframe is here to stay. No matter who you are, we are all a mainframe user in some shape or form. Nearly everyone uses a service, daily, that eventually comes into contact with a mainframe. An ATM machine, getting an insurance quote, booking travel, renewing your healthcare, even your online shopping. Mainframe computers play a central role in the daily operations of most of the world’s largest corporations, and have involvement in all major industries: banking, finance, health care, insurance, utilities, government and more.

With such a continued reliance on the mainframe as the engine of business, with so many core business applications usually held on the mainframe, this does present some challenges. Many of these core systems are accessed via 3270 terminal interfaces, often referred to as a ‘green screen’. Green screens are notorious for being cumbersome and inefficient, in comparison to modern-day technology. Worse still, these older technologies do not readily integrate with the latest generation of devices and interfaces demanded by today’s business users and customers.

And that’s where Rumba comes in. Micro Focus Rumba is the intersection point, where green screen apps meet modern interfaces. Rumba aims to accelerate efficiency and enhancing the user experience, without the risks of reprogramming the underlying application. Used by more than three million users, customers have adopted Rumba to solve a variety of challenges.

Sometimes, the underlying requirement can be as simple as a reliable, scalable connection to core systems. Retailer REI, used Micro Focus Rumba technology to resolve connectivity concerns between their Microsoft Windows platform and an IBM® mainframe. REI’s users are on several hundred PCs throughout a chain of stores – with Rumba they were able to easily and quickly integrate between platforms. Furthermore, user productivity improved due to the simplicity Rumba brings. See the full REI customer success story here.

Occasionally, the speed of solution is the driving force – a fast answer to a critical problem. One client, Steyer Textilservice GmbH, commented on the speed of the initial demonstration of value – “Within two days of working with Micro Focus, we were able to create a working prototype”, while the Micro Focus Rumba technology was described by The Brick as having “allowed us to exceed all our revenue expectations in a timeframe we would never have thought to be realistic.”

For some clients, the challenges are beyond technology, and represent genuine business concerns. Communications giant Comcast was failing to meet its new subscriber targets due to inefficiencies in its back office processes. Implementing Rumba technology enabled them to integrate key mainframe and .NET IT processes to improve the internal workflow, and allow them to meet subscriber signup targets. Similarly, insurance group AVIVA, faced with unacceptably low claims processing figures, used Rumba to achieve a substantial transformation of the user interface for both employees and customers, while maintaining a vital complete SSO (single sign-on) integration, with tremendous improvements in operational efficiency.

Across a variety of industries and supporting a variety of requirements, Rumba has improved user efficiency by over 100% and in many cases the implementation time is just a matter of days.  As another client testified “Our bottom line is proof that we made absolutely the right choice in Micro Focus.”

See what our current customers have to say about the Micro Focus Rumba technology here.

Many global organizations have used Micro Focus Rumba technology to modernize their core business processes and related user interfaces. The latest incarnation from Micro Focus, Rumba+, builds on all the benefits of Rumba, plus meets modern day business requirements by enabling user access to core systems whenever, wherever,  with access via desktop, web and mobile.  Learn more about Rumba+ here.

12 months of COBOL

As search giant Google releases its annual Zeitgeist report revealing the news stories and questions that got the world thinking in 2013, I thought I’d compile a Micro Focus view of the year for COBOL (which by the way, still gets 200 times more transactions per day than combined Google and YouTube searches[1]).

Here’s my 2013 retrospective …

January

Micro Focus’ Product Marketing Director, Derek Britton, started 2013 off by reminding us of the enduring value of trusted technology such as COBOL, in his legendary tale – ‘The Legacy Myth: Legendary IT’.

February

There were lots of COBOL news candidates to choose from in February, but my winner was Micro Focus Product Manager Scot Nielsen’s ‘Top 10 reasons to learn COBOL’.

March

March saw a collection of COBOL skills related discussions appearing in a number of publications, as Micro Focus re-launched its Academic Program.  As ever, the IT skills debate causes quite a stir in the press:

April

Spring is traditionally conference season for Micro Focus, and this year the Developer Conference went on tour to two US locations. The agenda saw a multitude of guest presenters including analysts, customers and partners.  Sam Malek, from Transvive kicked the conference off with his guest blog, ‘Lean start-up meets COBOL’.

If you missed this year’s Developer Conference, there’s a chance to catch up here: www.microfocus.com/devcon2013

May

In May, ITProPortal published an article by Micro Focus Product Marketing Director Ed Airey, ‘How COBOL is helping to move business applications to mobile’. Read it here.

June

In June, again there was a lot of choice, but I’ve managed to narrow down the selection to two of the best.

  1. eWeek reports on ‘10 reasons the old language is still kicking’ – my personal highlight is the slide deck which accompanies the article.
  2. I simply couldn’t ignore this ‘trekky’ reference from ITWorld – ‘COBOL, like Star Trek, needs a New Generation

July

In July, I wrote a blog that explains the challenges faced by many Development Managers. You’ll have heard it before, do more with less. Sound familiar?

The Development Manager’s Conundrum: Do even more, with less. Faster.

August

August can be a quiet month, but not at Micro Focus. We gathered some of the top IT Journalists in the UK together to host a COBOL Space Invaders event. Lots of fun, lots of great prizes, with a dash of serious COBOL messaging to sprinkle on top! Follow the event activity as it happened on Twitter: #COBOLSpaceinvaders

Play the game yourself here with Visual COBOL and the COBOL Blitz demo.

September

We celebrated International Programmer Day on September 13th with cupcakes and COBOL. How did you celebrate it? Read the blog for a round-up from us.

October

A big month for our Academic Program as we launched the COBOL Code Contest. Build a game (minimum 50% COBOL) and you could win $1000. Adrian Bridgewater  announced the competition on Computer Weekly ‘Keeping COBOL sexy with a game coding challenge’.

November

With the release of Visual COBOL 2.2, we had some fun in the marketing department and produced this video of ‘High Diving’ Giraffes – ‘Is COBOL still the same old animal?’, plus our 5 top tips for a smooth transition.

December

As the year draws to a close, the COBOL news doesn’t, and December proved to be one of the year’s most fascinating months for COBOL. Firstly, we launched the ‘12 days of COBOL’ – a series of must have hints and tips for COBOL developers.

Finally, as was the inspiration for this ‘COBOL Zeitgeist’, Google got the world talking about COBOL and ‘Our Amazing Grace’ with their fantastic doodle to celebrate the 107th birthday of the COBOL pioneer herself, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.

 

What will 2014 have in store?

More COBOL that’s for sure!  Tell us what you’d like to see in 2014, and what would you like to read about in terms of COBOL and the IT industry. Add your comments below and we’ll make sure your suggestions are considered.

Happy New Year!