Go Four, and Conquer

Go Four?

Devotees of Tennyson or Byron (depending on which quote you prefer) must forgive the title of this blog. I felt it was an apt way to introduce the latest update of the Micro Focus mainframe and distributed COBOL product lines – version 4.

What’s in a number? Aren’t we pretty much in maintenance mode after the third major update in a product life cycle? That’s not how Micro Focus sees it, I was unequivocally told by our product teams. Indeed, just one look at the scale of the investments involved gives us a good indication. As I learned from the Micro Focus product teams involved, the investment profile for this release is significant:

Number of product enhancements: 2,800
Aggregate tenure of the engineering team: 2,500 years
Hours of engineering on this release: 150,000

And that’s without considering the continuous build and release update cycle running throughout the year. Hundreds of engineers globally, supported by millions of automatic tests across thousands of build and test environment instances. This is an agile, customer-centric operation, at scale.

Head of Development at Micro Focus Neil Fowler explains, “We take pride in putting customers at the heart of our engineering plans: from our enhancement request process to our customer advisory boards, product investments are managed in partnership with the customer, not merely for the customer. We have the very best engineering professionals working on state of the art technology to ensure we efficiently deliver solutions that meet customer and market needs”.

Theme Teams

Looking at the breadth of our solutions, there’s clearly a lot we could do. But the focus remains grounded on core principles. As Product Director Eddie Houghton highlighted, “What links our broad array of technology are a small number of common themes which matter to nearly all of our clients. We start there. For this release we’ve continued to focus on the modernization activities our customers are looking for. For example on process modernization we’re enabling our customers to run single-source development of mainframe systems using agile processes to deliver core systems faster, then offering them flexibility in terms of deployment infrastructure – mainframe, Cloud, wherever the app is needed”. Those themes include the following:

Release Details

The Enterprise and Visual COBOL product sets enable IT teams deliver better applications, faster, across mainframe and distributed worlds. And 4.0 bring new capabilities and a more rapid life cycle to analyse, build, test, modernize and deploy enterprise application workload across mainframe, Linux, virtual, Docker container, managed code and Cloud platforms.

While no blog can do justice to 150,000 hours of development, I’ve selected a few key highlights of this release below. For more details, other materials (product Datasheets, the What’s New document and the release notes) will provide the unabridged version.

Release 4.0 can be characterized as supporting customers’ critical application Modernization needs. New capabilities include:

Application Modernization (what the application can do) – new project migration and analysis reporting utilities; major IDE enhancements including upgraded analysis capabilities, code refactoring, IntelliSense updates; major debugging enhancements including Reverse debugging; additional JVM and Web Services features
Process Modernization (how the application is built) – Project upgrade, analysis and build enhancements to further streamline how applications are assessed and built; major enhancements to make the build and delivery process more tailored and efficient
Infrastructure Modernization (where the application is deployed or access from) – New platform support added for new Web Application Server releases, SQL Server and database connectors; new support added for COBOL and Docker; additional application Security capabilities

I caught up with Product Director Scot Nielsen, who gave his view on one of the innovations provided in this release, “Support for Docker containers, new in the 4.0 release across the whole product range, is consistent with our strategy to ensure COBOL applications can seamlessly integrate with modern IT architectures and development practices. Docker is accelerating the delivery of core business functions and our pre-release customers are already enjoying the benefits. We’re delighted to help our customers continue to innovate this way.”

See More of Four

Version 4.0 of the Micro Focus Mainframe Solutions and the Visual COBOL product lines is released at the end of June. Be sure to catch our on-demand release Webinars. For more information visit the web site.

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