Igniting Innovation at ACU #DevDay Las Vegas

Welcoming Micro Focus’ Friends

To kick off the event, attendees heard from Vice President of COBOL Sales, Susan Drennan, as she welcomed our ACUCOBOL friends and guests to learn about the ‘new’ Micro Focus, and the many solutions available across a comprehensive suite of modernization solutions. When I say friends, I literally mean that because our Modernization solutions are built around actual customers and real world examples (as opposed to buzzword bingo and latest fads). We appreciate and value each and every customer relationship very much, making hosting an event like this a genuine pleasure and it was an honor to thank our attendees with a small token of our appreciation in the form of gift-bags:

The Need for Greater Business Agility

I opened with a perspective of growing market expectations for faster IT change.  ACUCOBOL business applications are core to the business but pressures to deliver new services, faster, are creating difficulty for application development teams.  Organizational leaders expect IT to both run and support existing applications AND deliver new innovation supporting key business initiatives—often using the same resources.  The key, as echoed by industry experts is ‘Continuous Business-driven Modernization…with a focus on optimizing value delivery’.  Rip-and-Replace or Re-write strategies are no longer adequate to meet today’s rapid pace of change.  A new approach that enables teams to re-use and re-factor core business systems is needed.


These new challenges require a smarter strategy for IT transformation—modernization.  Micro Focus’ approach to modernization was introduced covering the Application, Process and Infrastructure topics.  Or said another way…the what, the how and the where of Modernization.  The ‘what’ being the application or the core IP of the business including business logic, data and the user interface.  Micro Focus provides both an inside-out approach enabling transformation of source code, data and business rules.  Alternatively, an outside-in approach with a focus on transformation of the user interface (UI).  Process modernization speaks to ‘how’ software is built, tested and deployed.  Process modernization enables teams to explore how to best leverage established delivery models including waterfall alongside agile development, continuous integration and DevOps.  Lastly, infrastructure modernization focuses on ‘where’ the software will run both in dev/test and in production.  For most, this topic covers on premise platforms, cloud, virtualization, Docker containers and hybrid IT environments.  This holistic approach to modernization enables IT team to transform their business systems on their terms–incrementally–with a focus on delivering real value to the business. nearly all delegates acknowledged a need to keep modernizing their core ACU-based apps.

A journey to Vegas, and another starting place on the journey of continous modernization

A great example of IT transformation in action was demonstrated through the Sage customer success story delivered by Annette Viljoen, Director of Engineering.  Annette shared Sage’s journey of modernization as her development team met challenging deadlines to transform a well-established ACUCOBOL payroll system in South Africa. The drivers for business change were to deliver a new user experience for a worldwide payroll system leveraging modern cloud-based technology.  With over 5M lines of code and over 3,000 highly-customized ACUCOBOL screens, this transition proved challenging.  But after discussions with Micro Focus and the support of local UX designers, Annette’s team delivered a new cloud-based payroll application in less than five months—without changing a single line of code! The secret to her success? AcuToWeb®.  Annette’s inspiring story motivated many in attendance to take a closer look at this unique UI transformation solution. Thank you Annette for sharing your story and letting me share your picture in this blogpost:New ACU Tools

Annette’s presentation was followed by various technology demos showcasing many ACU solutions.  Eric Topada demonstrated application modernization options using both Xcentrisity Business Information Server® (XBIS) for web services development and AcuToWeb for UI and web integration. Many delegates expressed immediate interest in Restful web services and JSON support as demonstrated by Eric. Drake Coker, an original ACUCorp founder and experienced developer, delivered a speech on improving application performance using the binary mathematical package available in ACU 10.x. Stephen Hjerpe gave a quick tour of the ACU data modernization tools including ACU4GL® and ACUXDBC®.  Eric then introduced new application analysist tools for ACUCOBOL developers using COBOL Analyzer®. You’ll have gathered by now that we’re not talking dead technology or a dying demographic:

Modernization Matters

At ACU #DevDay, one theme was clear—there are many ways to modernize your COBOL business applications.  The question for many is where to start. The Micro Focus solves this challenge by providing flexibility in your approach.  You decide on where to start based on your business priorities.  Here, Micro Focus can help with a complimentary application assessment that brings together technical experts to build a sensible strategy for modernization aligned to real business objectives.

With the average lifespan for today’s organization now less than fifteen years, it’s more important now more than ever to adapt quickly to change.  Modernization offers a proven path for IT transformation striking the right balance between innovation, cost and risk and enabling ACUCOBOL developers to quickly deliver new business value while leveraging high value assets—their apps.

A Stronger Community

With so many powerful technology demos, a memorable customer success story and plenty of challenging questions, it’s clear to see that the ACUCOBOL community is alive and well.  With new ACU solutions on the horizon, including a new Beta program for extend® 10.3 in August, there will be even more stories to share of ACU innovation.  Thank you ACU community friends for a great technical event and a fantastic game of giant Jenga!

It’s also orth pointing out that the folks attending #ACU #DevDay 2019 would probably have missed our showcase #MicroFocusUniverse event in Vienna. This event featured a superb Application Modernization & Connectivity track available for everyone on-demand – register for all of that goodness right here:



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