Trying to Transform

Here’s an interesting statistic. According to a report, only 61 of the Fortune 500 top global companies have remained on that illustrious list since 1955. That’s only 12%. It’s not unreasonable to extrapolate that 88% of the Fortune 500 of 2075 will be different again. That’s over 400 organizations that won’t stand the test of time.

What do such sobering prospects mean for the CEO of most major corporations? Simple – innovation. Innovation and transformation are the relentless treadmill of change and the continuous quest for differentiation. These are what an organization will need for a competitive edge in the future.

But in this digital economy, what does transformation look like?

Time for Change

Key findings from a recent report (the 2016 State of Digital Transformation, by research and consulting firm Altimeter) shared the following trends affecting organizational digital transformation:

  • Customer experience is the top driver for change
  • A majority of respondents see the catalyst for change as evolving customer behaviour and preference. A great number still see that as a significant challenge
  • Nearly half saw a positive result on business as a result of digital transformation
  • Four out of five saw innovation as top of the digital transformation initiatives

Much of this is echoed by a study The Future of Work commissioned by Google.

The three most prevalent outcomes of adopting “digital technologies” were cited as

  • Improving customer experience
  • Improving internal communication
  • Enhancing internal productivity

More specifically, the benefits experienced of adopting digital technology were mentioned as

  • Responding faster to changing needs
  • Optimizing business processes
  • Increasing revenue and profits

Meanwhile, the report states that the digital technologies that are perceived as having the most future impact were a top five of Cloud, Tablets, Smartphones, Social Media and Mobile Apps.

So, leveraging new technology, putting the customer first, and driving innovation seem all to connect together to yield tangible benefits for organizations that are seeking to transform themselves. Great.

But it’s not without its downside. None of this, alas, is easy. Let’s look at some of the challenges cited the same study, and reflect on how they could be mitigated.

More Than Meets The Eye?

Seamlessly changing to support a new business model or customer experience is easy to conceive. We’ve all seen the film Transformers, right? But in practical, here-and-now IT terms, this is not quite so simple. What are the challenges?

The studies cited a few challenges: let’s look at some of them.

Challenge: What exactly is the customer journey?

In the studies, while a refined customer experience was seen as key, 71% saw understanding that behaviour as a major challenge. Unsurprisingly, only half had mapped out the customer journey. More worrying is that a poor digital customer experience means, over 90% of the time, unhappy customers won’t complain – but they will not return. (Source: www.returnonbehaviour.com ).

Our View: The new expectation of the digitally-savvy customer is all important in both B2C and B2B. Failure to assess, determine, plan, build and execute a renewed experience that maps to the new customer requirement is highly risky. That’s why Micro Focus’ Build story incorporates facilities to map, define, implement and test against all aspects of the customer experience, to maximize the success rates of newly-available apps or business services.

Challenge: Who’s doing this?

The studies also showed an ownership disparity. Some of the digital innovation is driven from the CIO’s organization (19%), some from the CMO (34%), and the newly-emerging Chief Digital office (15%) is also getting some of the funding and remit. So who’s in charge and where’s the budget, and is the solution comprehensive? These are all outstanding questions in an increasingly siloed digital workplace.

Our View: While organizationally there may be barriers, the culture of collaboration and inclusiveness can be reinforced by appropriate technology. Technology provides both visibility and insight into objectives, tasks, issues, releases and test cases, not to mention the applications themselves. This garners a stronger tie between all stakeholder groups, across a range of technology platforms, as organizations seek to deliver faster.

Challenge: Are we nimble enough?

Rapid response to new requirements hinges on how fast, and frequently, an organization can deliver new services. Fundamentally, it requires an agile approach – yet 63% saw a challenge in their organization being agile enough. Furthermore, the new DevOps paradigm is not yet the de-facto norm, much as many would want it to be.

Our View: Some of the barriers to success with Agile and DevOps boil down to inadequate technology provision, which is easily resolved – Micro Focus’ breadth of capability up and down the DevOps tool-chain directly tackles many of the most recognized bottlenecks to adoption, from core systems appdev to agile requirements management. Meanwhile, the culture changes of improved teamwork, visibility and collaboration are further supported by open, flexible technology that ensures everyone is fully immersed in and aware of the new model.

Challenge: Who’s paying?

With over 40% reporting strong ROI results, cost effectiveness of any transformation project remains imperative. A lot of CapEx is earmarked and there needs to be an ROI. With significant bottom line savings seen by a variety of clients using its technology, Micro Focus’ approach is always to plan how such innovation will pay for itself in the shortest possible timeframe.

Bridge Old and New

IT infrastructure and how it supports an organization’s business model is no longer the glacial, lumbering machine it once could be. Business demands rapid response to change. Whether its building new customer experiences, establishing and operating new systems and devices, or ensuring clients and the corporation protect key data and access points, Micro Focus continues to invest to support today’s digital agenda.

Of course, innovation or any other form of business transformation will take on different forms depending on the organization, geography, industry and customer base, and looks different to everyone we listen to. What remains true for all is that the business innovation we offer our customers enables them to be more efficient, to deliver new products and services, to operate in new markets, and to deepen their engagement with their customers.

Transforming? You better be. If so, talk to us, or join us at one of our events soon.

The true cost of free

There always exists the low-cost vendor who offers something for free to win market share. In enterprise IT, it is worth examining what free really means. Derek Britton goes in search of a genuine bargain

Introduction

IT leaders want to help accelerate business growth by implementing technology to deliver value quickly. They usually stipulate in the same breath the need for value for money. The pursuit of the good value purchase is endless. No wonder then that vendors who offer “use our product for free” often get some attention. This blog looks at the true cost of ‘free’.

Measuring Value

We all use desktop or mobile apps which, if they stopped working – and let’s face it, they do from time to time – wouldn’t really matter to us. We would mutter something, roll our eyes, and re-start the app. That’s not to say that people aren’t annoyed if they’ve not saved some important work when their application stops, but typically the impact is nothing more than a briefly disgruntled user.

But if an application is doing something critical or stategically important for an organization, then it is higher up on value scale. For example, an ATM application, savings account, package or logistics, money transfer, credit check, insurance quote, travel booking, retail transaction.  What if it went wrong? What if you also needed it to run elsewhere? What value would you put on that? Vitally, what would happen to the organization if you couldn’t do those things?

valuequal

Get it for free

Application Development tooling and processes tend to incur a charge, as the link between the technology and the valuable application is easily determined. However, there is required additional technology to deploy and run the built applications. Here, the enticement of a “free” product is very tempting at this stage. After all, why should anyone pay to run an application that’s already been built? Many technology markets have commoditised to the point where the relative price has fallen significantly. Inevitably, some vendors are trying the “free” route to win market share.

But for enterprise-class systems, one has to consider the level of service being provided with a “free” product. Here’s what you can expect.

Deployment for free typically offers no responsibility if something goes wrong with that production system. Therefore internal IT teams must be prepared to respond to applications not working, or find an alternative means of insuring against that risk.

A free product means, inevitably, no revenue is generated by the vendor. Which means reinvestment in future innovations or customer requirements is squeezed. As an example, choice of platform may be limited, or some 3rd party software support or certification. Soon enough an enticing free product starts to look unfit for purpose due to missing capability, or missing platform support.

Another typical area of exposure is customer support, which is likely to be thin on the ground because there is insufficient funding for the emergency assistance provided by a customer support team.

In a nutshell, if the business relies on robust, core applications, what would happen if something goes wrong with a free product?

An Open and Shut Case?

Consider Open Source and UNIX. In a time when UNIX was a collection of vendor-specific variants, all tied to machinery (AIX, Solaris, HP/UX, Unixware/SCO), there was no true “open” version for UNIX, there was no standard. The stage was set for someone to break the mould. Linus Torvalds created a new, open source operating system kernel. Free to the world, many different people have contributed to it, technology hobbyists, college students, even major corporations.  Linux today represents a triumph of transparency, and Linux, and Open Source is here to stay.

However, that’s not the whole story. It still needed someone to recognize the market for a commercial service around this new environment. Without the support service offered by SUSE, Red Hat and others, Linux would not be the success it is today.

Today, major global organizations use Linux for core business systems. Linux now outsells other UNIX variants by some distance. Why? Not just because it was free or open source, but because the valuable service it provided organizations with was good value. But people opt to pay for additional support because their organizations must be able to rectify any problems, which is where organizations such as SUSE and Red Hat come in. Linus Torvalds was the father of the idea, but SUSE, Red Hat (and their competitors) made it a viable commercial technology.

Genuine return

Robust, valuable core applications will require certain characteristics to mitigate any risk of failure. Such risks will be unacceptable for higher-value core systems. Of course, many such systems are COBOL-based. Such criteria might include:

  • Access to a dedicated team of experts to resolve and prioritize any issues those systems encounter
  • Choice of platform – to be able to run applications wherever they are needed
  • Support for the IT environment today and in the future – certification against key 3rd party technology
  • A high-performance, robust and scalable deployment product, capable of supporting large-scale enterprise COBOL systems

The Price is Right

Robust and resilient applications are the lifeblood of the organization. With 4 decades of experience and thousands of customers, Micro Focus provides an award-winning 24/7 support service. We invest over $50M each year in our COBOL and related product research and development. You won’t find a more robust deployment environment for COBOL anywhere.

But cheap alternatives exist. The question one must pose, therefore, is what does free really cost? When core applications are meant to work around your business needs – not the other way around, any compromise on capability, functionality or support introduces risk to the business.

Micro Focus’ deployment technology ensures that business critical COBOL applications that must not fail work whenever and wherever needed, and will continue to work in the future;  and that if something ever goes wrong, the industry leader is just a mouse click away.

Anything that is free is certainly enticing, but does zero cost mean good value? As someone once said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.

Introducing Micro Focus Enterprise Sync: Delivering Faster Change

Delivering Mainframe DevOps involves managing a lot more change a lot more often. This might need improving processes, but also demands more of technology. Amie Johnson unveils how Micro Focus is supporting collaborative change.

Introduction

At Micro Focus, we believe mainframe organizations can achieve DevOps levels of efficiency by just taking advantage of modern, efficient tools, agile development practices and fostering better team collaboration. It’s simply a matter of incrementally removing application delivery bottlenecks.

As such, Micro Focus just introduced a new product within our Enterprise Solution set aimed at helping mainframe developers deliver new releases, faster.

Enterprise Sync tackles head on one of the major delivery bottlenecks our customers encounter: coordinating and orchestrating rapid code change – needed in a DevOps model – using conventional mainframe configuration management tools.

The product supports rapid, contemporary parallel development to provide a means to adopt a more agile delivery method across mainframe development teams.

Why can’t we deliver multiple streams?

DevOps promises to eradicate delays in IT delivery. So, in the mainframe world, what’s the bottleneck?

One of the issues is all about how deliveries are managed. As robust as they are, trusted old mainframe configuration management tools weren’t designed to support parallel development, so multi-stream code merges are difficult, manual and prone to error. But, these mainframe configuration management tools hold unique configuration detail and metadata which are essential to supporting critical mainframe applications. So, while replacing such tools completely is out of the question, customers are looking for ways to support a more agile delivery model.

Removing Barriers

The Micro Focus solution, Enterprise Sync, helps solve the bottleneck associated with a desire to introduce parallel development activities. It does this by replicating mainframe source code to a distributed software configuration management platform. Code changes made via parallel development on the distributed platform are automatically synchronized with the mainframe SCM environment, such as CA Endevor. The integration and synchronization effectively introduces a new paradigm of speed and accuracy in delivering parallel development streams for mainframe delivery. This seamless integration with established software change management tools uniquely addresses the need to deliver faster change while preserving the organization’s valuable investment in mainframe processes and their software change and configuration management environment.

ES1

As part of the wider Micro Focus Enterprise product set, Enterprise Sync works collaboratively with our flagship mainframe application development tool, Enterprise Developer, to deliver:

  • Easier parallel development at scale across releases or teams
  • Greater efficiency through management and visualization of code change using modern tools
  • Alignment with current mainframe development process and source code
  • Improved developer productivity through continuous integration of key updates

ES2

ES3

Find out more

Establishing a modern mainframe delivery environment may be central to your DevOps strategy. Learn more about how Micro Focus can help with a complementary Value Profile Service. See what’s possible and hear more about how Micro Focus has helped transform mainframe application delivery.

Achieve DevOps levels of efficiency, flexibility and collaboration. Learn more about the new Enterprise Sync release on the website, or download the product datasheet.

ES4

#DevDay Report – so what does COBOL look like now?

David Lawrence reports back from the latest Micro Focus #DevDays and what COBOL looks like these days. With Partners like Astadia it seems like anything’s possible…..including Mobile Augmented Reality! Read on.

To most people, COBOL applications probably look like this:

dlpic1

and are thought to do nothing more than this:

DLpic2

These applications are likely to be COBOL-based. After all, COBOL is the application language for business. With over 240 billion (with a b) lines of code still in production, the fact is that COBOL is used in thousands, if not millions, of applications that have nothing to do with finance.

It’s called the COmmon Business Oriented Language for a reason. The reason is that it was designed to automate the processing of any business transaction, regardless of the nature of the business.

Did you realize that COBOL is also widely used by municipalities, utilities and transportation companies?

At our Nashville Micro Focus DevDay event on June 21, the audience was treated to a very interesting presentation by a major American railroad organization, where they showed us how their COBOL application inventory runs their daily operations (scheduling, rolling stock management, crews, train make up and dispatch).

Earlier in the month we heard from a client who was using COBOL applications to capture, monitor and analyze game and player statistics in the world of major league baseball.

Many attendees of our COBOL and mainframe app dev community events, DevDay, are managing crucial COBOL applications as the lifeblood of their business. From managing retailers’ stock control systems, to haulage and logistics organziations’ shipments and deliveries, from healthcare, pharma and food production organizations, to major financial service, insurance and wealth management systems.

Those applications contain decades of valuable business rules and logic. Imagine if there was a way to make use of all that knowledge, by say using it to more accurately render a street diagram.

You say “Yes, that’s nice, but I already have Google Maps.” All very well and good. But what if you are a utility company trying to locate a troublesome underground asset, such as a leaking valve or short circuited, overheating power cable?

Astadia has come up with a very interesting solution that combines wealth of intelligence built into the COBOL applications that are invariably the heart and brains of most large utilities or municipalities with modern GPS-enabled devices

DevDay Boston

I had a chance to see this first hand at DevDay Boston. DevDay is a traveling exposition that features the newest offerings from Micro Focus combined with real life experiences from customers.

Astadia, a Micro Focus partner and application modernization consultancy, visted our Boston DevDays and showed us their mobile augmented reality application which enhances street view data with additional information needed by field crews.

Steve Steuart, one of Astadia’s Senior Directors, visted our Boston DevDays, and introduced the attendees to ARGIS, their augmented reality solution that helps field engineers locate underground or otherwise hidden physical infrastructure asset such as power and water distribution equipment.

I watched as Steve explained and demonstrated ARGIS overlaying, in real time, the locations of manhole covers and drains in the vicinity of the Marriott onto a Google Maps image of the area surrounding the Marriott Hotel . .. Steve explained that ARGIS was using the GPS in the tablet and mining the intelligence from the COBOL application used by the Boston Department of Public works department to track the locations in real time, superimposed over the street view, the precise location of the network of pipes and valves supplying water to the area

Here’s a picture .. certainly worth a thousand words, wouldn’t you say?

Below you see how the Astadia‘s ARGIS Augmented Reality system sources the data of the local utility company’s COBOL application inventory to give clear visual indications of the locations of key field infrastructure components (e.g. pipes, valves, transformers) over a view of what the field engineer is actually seeing. Nice to have when you’re trying to work out where to dig, isn’t it?

Poc1

Very imaginative indeed, but at the heart of this new innovation, the important data and logic comes from, guess where? . . yes, it comes from a COBOL application. Micro Focus solutions help mine and reuse those crucial business rules locked up in our customers’ portfolio of proven, reliable COBOL applications. This will prolong their longevity and flow of value to the business. Why take all that risk and spend millions to replicate intelligence that already exists, but which has been hard to utilize effectively?

Afterwards, I spoke with Steve – Astadia’s senior director who remarked: “As long as Micro Focus continues to invest in COBOL, COBOL will continue to be relevant.”

Speaking afterwards with Micro Focus’ Director of COBOL Solutions, Ed Airey, he commented

“We are always thrilled to see how our partners and customers are taking advantage of the innovation possible in our COBOL technology to build applications that meet their needs in the digital age. Astadia’s ARGIS product is great. I’m not surprised to see how far they’ve been able to extend their application set in this way – Visual COBOL was designed with exactly that sort of innovation in mind. The only constant in IT is change, and with Micro Focus COBOL in their corner our customers are able to modernize much faster and more effectively than they realize”.

See real world applications and how they can be modernized at a Micro Focus DevDay near you. For more information on our COBOL Delivery and Mainframe Solutions, go here.

David Lawrence

Global Sales Enablement Specialist

DLblog

The Cloud: small step not quantum leap

Ed Airey, Solutions Marketing Director for our COBOL and mainframe products, looks at how the right technology can take the enterprise into the Cloud – and how one customer is already getting great results.

We have often used the Micro Focus blog to consider the next wave of disruptive technology; what it is and what it means for the enterprise.

We have looked at mobile technology and the far-reaching aspects of phenomena such as BYOD. Enterprise customers running mature, well-established tech have managed all of these with varying degrees of success.

The key to linking older, COBOL applications with more contemporary customer must-haves, such as web, mobile and Internet of Things apps, is using an enabling technology to help make that transition.

The Cloud is often thought of as synonymous with new companies running modern infrastructures. The default target profile would be a recent start-up using contemporary tech and delivery processes. They can set up in the Cloud and harness the power of on-demand infrastructure from the get-go.

But what about…

The enterprise, however, looks very different. Its business-critical business systems run on traditional, on-premise hardware and software environments – how can it adapt to Cloud computing? And what of business leaders concerned about cost, speed to market, or maximizing the benefits of SaaS? Where can developers looking to support business-critical applications alongside modern tech make the incremental step to virtual or Cloud environments?

Micro Focus technology can make this quantum leap a small step and help organizations running business-critical COBOL applications maximize the opportunity to improve flexibility and scale without adding cost.

Visual COBOL is the enabler

With the support of the right technology, COBOL applications can do more than the original developers ever thought possible. The advent of the mobile banking app proves that COBOL apps can adapt to new environments.

Visual COBOL is that technology and application virtualization is the first step for organizations making the move to the Cloud. A virtually-deployed application can help the enterprise take the step into the Cloud, improve flexibility and increase responsiveness to future demand. It can help even the most complex application profiles.

Modernization in action

Trasmediterranea Acciona is a leading Spanish corporation and operates in many verticals, including infrastructures, energy, water, and services, in more than 30 countries.

Their mainframe underpinned their ticketing and boarding application services, including COBOL batch processes and CICS transactions. Although efficient, increasing costs and wider economic concerns in Spain made the mainframe a costly option that prevented further investment in the applications and the adoption of new technologies.

Virtualization enables enterprises to prepare their applications for off-site hosted infrastructure environments, such as Microsoft Azure. It is a simple first stage of a modernization strategy that will harness smart technology, enabling organizations to leverage COBOL applications without rewriting current code.

Using the Micro Focus Visual COBOL solution certainly helped Acconia, who worked with Micro Focus technology partner Microsoft Consulting Services to port their core COBOL applications and business rules to .NET and Azure without having to rewrite their code.

As Acconia later commented, “We can reuse our critical COBOL application … [this was] the lowest risk route in taking this application to the Cloud. Making our core logistics application available under Microsoft Azure … has not only dramatically reduced our costs, but it also helps position our applications in a more agile, modern architecture for the future”.

And as the evidence grows that more enterprises than ever are looking at the Cloud, it is important that their ‘first steps’ do not leave you behind.

Find out more here www.microfocus.com/cloud

social-step-into-the-cloud-600x300

DevOps – a faster voyage of discovery

Tackling IT change is adversely affected by the complexity of the application landscape. Yet, problems getting up to speed in enterprise IT systems might be a thing of the past, as David Lawrence learns in his first Micro Focus blog

Accelerating delivery starts with automating understanding

Anyone been asked to do less this year? Thought not.

Anyone been able to simplify their IT systems recently? Figured as much…

As IT teams continue their turnover, and the rate of change required to keep decades-old portfolios productive increases, the ability to mobilize and plan for change is coming into sharp relief.

Yet, as the article from CIO magazine describes, the impending shortage of COBOL programmers will complicate efforts to keep these assets productive. Moreover, the increasing IT backlog (referred to by others as “IT Debt,” for example in this 2010 Gartner report) illustrates the urgency of improving the productivity of new developers as quickly as possible. A team that has been in place for decades, and has probably created a significant proportion of the portfolio they are now maintaining, will have an easier time keeping up with the backlog than will a team of individuals who are unfamiliar with the code.

Application discovery is a necessary part of the work of a developer, or programmer, who is new to a project or to a part of the application portfolio they are unfamiliar with. Traditionally, it is a trial and error process consisting of searching through tens or hundreds of source files, deciphering cryptic comments and locating references to significant data elements. And the language of these core systems? More often than not, COBOL.

wordle5

A DevOps Approach?

The benefits of replacing error-prone manual tasks with automated tools are well understood and form the bedrock of the rationale for the DevOps initiative.

Understanding of an application is crucial not just to get the new programmer up to speed. It’s also necessary for performing due diligence and following good practice. Compliance and oversight rules in organizations I speak with mandate that the impact of a proposed change to an application in production must be thoroughly understood, and usually documented in the form of an impact analysis, before the change can be deployed to the production environment.

DevOps is about automating as much of the application lifecycle as is feasible, to shorten time to production and reduce errors and resulting delays. This includes the early stages of discovery, analysis, requirements gathering, and so on.

The traditional means of discovery and analysis  of mainframe applications is a manual, and usually unbounded task, difficult to schedule and plan.

Automating the Discovery process

If we take the DevOps perspective of seeing what could be done to eliminate application discovery – usually a laborious, manual effort – it holds that this is an activity that is ripe for automation. What if, instead of chasing through one file after another, the programmer had at his disposal, a means to quickly and accurately visualize the structure and flow of the application? Such a solution could be used to not only reduce the effort of discovery, it could also automate another crucial task: Complete and accurate impact analysis. Application updates have been known to fail in production due to an inadequate understanding of the impact of the update.

Application Discovery Benefits

Solutions from Micro Focus and other vendors help automate discovery by automatically creating a visual representation of the application. By revealing artifacts like control flow and data references in an IDE instead of through the ISPF editor, the new programmer’s task of familiarizing himself with a new application is simplified. At the same time, the capability to automatically create impact analysis reports helps move your organization further along the path to DevOps.

Better yet, the same analysis information can be provided not only at the stage of initial examination (potentially scoping out a task for others), but also at the point of change, when the developer needs to know what to change, where and why, and what impacts this will have.

Figure 1Automated analysis at the point of change
Figure 1Automated analysis at the point of change

Conclusion – Automating the Journey

The demographic trends in the IT world are helping to exacerbate the IT backlog issue. People who know these systems may have moved on. Or the task of maintenance has been sub-contracted out to a team of staff who have no familiarity with the system. The increasing velocity of business and new models of customer interaction are additional factors in adding to the workload of COBOL programmers. A solution that speeds up development activities and reduces the risk through elimination or reduction of manual steps, makes a lot of sense. Moving the organization closer to their own DevOps objectives involves automating as much as possible – starting with knowing the systems being changed, using technology such as Micro Focus Enterprise Analyzer, should be seriously considered.

David Lawrence

Global Sales Enablement Specialist

DLblog

 

Market Attitudes to Modernization

The tried-and-trusted enterprise-scale server of choice is casually regarded as an unchanging world. Yet today’s digital world means the mainframe is being asked to do greater and greater things. Derek Britton investigates big-iron market attitudes to change.

Keeping the Mainframe Modern

A Firm Foundation

The IBM Mainframe environment has been on active duty since the mid 1960’s and remains the platform of choice for the vast majority of the world’s most successful organizations. However, technology has evolved at an unprecedented pace in the last generation, and today’s enterprise server market is more competitive than ever. So it would be wholly fair to ask whether the mainframe remains as popular as ever.

You don’t have to look too hard for the answer. Whether you are reading reports from surveys conducted by CA, Compuware, Syncsort, BMC, IBM or Micro Focus, the response is loud and clear – the mainframe is the heart of the business.

Summarizing the surveys we’ve seen, for many organizations the Mainframe remains an unequivocally strategic asset. Typical survey responses depict up to 90% of the industry seeing the mainframe platform as being strategic for at least another decade (Sources: BMC, Compuware and others).

It could also be argued that the value of the platform is a reflection of the applications which it supports. So perhaps unsurprisingly, a survey conducted by Micro Focus showed that over 85% of Mainframe applications are considered strategic.

plus ça change

However, the appetite for change is also evident. Again, this holds true in the digital age. An unprecedentedly large global market, with more vocal users than ever, are demanding greater change across an unprecedented variety of access methods (devices). No system devised in the 1960s or 1970s could have possibly conceived the notion of the internet, of the mobile age, of the internet of things; yet that’s what they do have to do today – cope with this new world. Understandably, surveys reflect that: Micro Focus found two-thirds of those surveyed recognize a need to ‘do things differently’ in terms of application/service delivery and are seeking a more efficient approach.

The scale of change seems to be a growing problem that is impossible to avoid. In another survey, results show that IT is failing to keep up with the pace of change. A study by Vanson Bourne revealed that IT Backlogs (also referred to as IT Debt) had increased by 29% in just 18 months. Extrapolated, that’s the same as the workload doubling in less than five years. Supply is utterly failing demand.

Supporting this, and driven by new customer demands in today’s digital economy, over 40% of respondents confirmed that they are actively seeking to modernize their applications to support next generation technologies including Java, RDBMS, REST-based web services and .NET.  Many are also seeking to leverage modern development tools (Source: Micro Focus)

And it isn’t just technical change. The process of delivery is also being reviewed. We know from Gartner that 25% of the Global 2000 have adopted DevOps in response to the need for accelerated change, and that this figure is growing at 21% each year, suggesting the market is evolving towards a model of more frequent delivery.

pluscachange

Crossroads

Taking what works and improving it is not, however, the only option. Intrepid technologists might be tempted by a more draconian approach, hoping to manage and mitigate the associated cost and risk.

Package replacements take considerable budget and time, only to deliver – typically – a rough equivalent of the old system. Both unique competitive advantage is compromised, and of course packages are available to the open market. Such an approach is known to have a 40% failure rate, according to Standish Group. Custom rewrite projects appear to be riskier still, the same report talking about a 70% failure rate and extremely lengthy and costly projects.

Worse still, reports from CAST Software suggest that Java (a typical replacement language choice) is around 4 times more costly to maintain than equivalent COBOL-based core systems. The risks of such a drastic change are clear.

Moving Ahead

Meeting future need never ends. Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s standard. Change is the only true constant. As such, the established methods of providing business value need to be constantly scrutinized and challenged. The mainframe market sees its inherent value and regards the platform as well-placed to support the future.

And to meet the demands of the digital age, the mainframe world is evolving: new complimentary technology and methods will provide the greater efficiencies it needs to keep up with the pace of change. Find out more at MicroFocus.com and / or download the white paper ‘Discover the State of Enterprise IT

Ist das Know How der Schweiz wirklich noch sicher? Cyberkriminalität kennt keine Grenzen!

Das Gefühl von Sicherheit prägt das Image der Schweiz genauso wie eine attraktive Wirtschaftszone mit einer innovativen und leistungsstarken Wirtschaft. Doch wie sicher ist die Schweiz, wenn es um das Thema Cyber Kriminalität geht? Warum sollten Cyber Mafia und professionellen Hacker gerade die Schweiz verschonen und warum schätzen binnenwirtschaftlich orientierte Unternehmen diese Risiken eher niedrig ein? Lesen in dem Blog, welche Aspekte für eine strategischere Sichtweise auf die Informationssicherheit wichtig sind.

Die Schweiz als „sicherer Hafen” – kaum ein anderes Sinnbild hebt die Vorzüge des Alpenstaates inmitten Europas besser hervor.  Die soziale, politische und wirtschaftliche Kontinuität  gilt noch immer als Garant für die wichtigsten Erfolgsfaktoren des Landes im internationalen Wettbewerb .

Das Gefühl von Sicherheit prägt das Image der Schweiz genauso wie eine attraktive Wirtschaftszone mit einer  innovativen und leistungsstarken Wirtschaft. Doch wie  sicher ist die Schweiz, wenn es um das Thema Cyber Kriminalität geht? Die Schweizer neigen auch aufgrund des allgemeinen Sicherheitsgefühls hier eher zu denken: „Uns passiert das nicht!“ Doch warum sollten die Cyber Mafia und professionellen Hacker gerade die Schweiz verschonen? Besonders die Schweizer Wirtschaft angeführt von einem modernen Finanzdienstleistungssektor über eine innovative Fertigungsindustrie, die vor allem High-Tech und wissensbasierte Erzeugnisse produziert bis hin zu den Qualitätsprodukten mit dem Siegel „swiss made“ rückt mehr und mehr in den Fokus solcher Cyber Kriminellen. Es sind diese Markenzeichen, die in einer stark vernetzten Welt vermehrt unter Druck geraten, wenn die Geheimnisse erfolgreicher Innovation gestohlen werden.

Wirtschaftsspionage und Datendiebstahl sind gemäß einer Studie der Uni Fribourg die größten Sicherheitsrisiken und die Spionage ist ein besonders lukratives Geschäft: Vertrauliche Informationen können an Konkurrenten verkauft werden oder die gehackte Firma wird erpresst. Die KPMG Schweiz schätzt in ihrer Studie «Clarity on Cyber Security» vom 6. Mai 2015,  allein in der Schweiz den jährlichen  Schaden auf mindestens 200 Millionen Franken. Doch die hier genannte Zahl ist wohl nur die „Spitze des Matterhorn“, denn zum einen melden viele geschädigte Schweizer Firmen Angriffe überhaupt nicht und gerade kleinere und mittlere Firmen bemerken oftmals gar nicht, dass sie Opfer geworden sind. Wenn man jetzt bedenkt, dass etwa 99 % aller Firmen in der Schweiz, die die wertvollen Produkte oder Erfindungen hervorbringen, dem Bereich der kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen zuzuordnen ist, dann wird schnell klar, dass gerade die KMU’s in Bezug auf eine Verbesserung des IT-Sicherheitsniveaus besonders gefordert sind. Im Zuge der globalen Vernetzung kann das Versenden einer einfachen Email schon ausreichen, um wertvolles Wissen in falsche Hände geraten zu lassen. Auch der zunehmende Einsatz mobiler Endgeräte sowohl im privaten als auch professionellen Umfeld stellt aufgrund der vielfältigen Schwachstellen eine Herausforderung für die IT-Sicherheitsverantwortlichen der Unternehmen dar.

Bewertung von Gefahrenbereichen ist essenziell für die Gewährleistung von IT-Sicherheit

Um Geschäfts- und Kundendaten vor dem Zugriff durch professionelle Cyberkriminelle abzusichern, reicht eine, alleine auf Compliance fokussierte Perspektive nicht mehr aus. Vielmehr ist ein risikobasierter Ansatz notwendig, der die Sicht auf die Beziehung zwischen Werten, Bedrohungen, Schwachstellen und Maßnahmen schärft.  Darüber hinaus wird es bei der Risikobewertung immer wichtiger zu wissen, wo erzeugte Daten gelagert und wie sie aggregiert werden.

Bedenkt man nun noch, dass aktuell die meisten aller Netzwerkangriffe auf gestohlenen oder schwachen Passwörtern basieren, sollte ein Multi-Faktor-Authentifizierungsverfahren ein zentraler Bestandteil einer umfassenden Sicherheitsstrategie sein. Derartige Verfahren sind in der Lage Angriffe wie Identitätsdiebstähle zu begrenzen. Bei der Auswahl des für Sie passendenden  Multi-Faktor-Authentifizierungsverfahren empfiehlt es sich, vielfältige Fragen zu berücksichtigen :

  • Kann ich neue Anforderungen an mein Geschäft adressieren, wie Cloud und mobile Devices?
  • Wie kann ich Authentifizierungsmethoden an meinen Geschäftsrisiken und den Anforderungen meiner Benutzer ausrichten?
  • Kann ich all meine Benutzer und Endpunkte zentral verwalten und steuern?
  • Wer kontrolliert meine Authentifizierungsdaten?
  • Wie kann ich zusätzliche Sicherheitsstufen integrieren, um mich noch stärker vor Bedrohungen zu schützen?
  • Und wie halte ich all das praktisch und kostengünstig?

Mehr denn je sind Lösungen für das Authentifizierungsmanagement gefragt,  die einfache Umsetzung, Automatisierung, reduzierte TCO und große Auswahlmöglichkeiten bieten.

TomHofmann

 

 

 

Thomas Hofmann

Systems Engineer – Micro Focus Switzerland

Visual COBOL new release: Small point. Big deal

The latest iteration of Visual COBOL is a minor point release that could make a big difference to how our customers manage their business application portfolios. Solutions Marketing Director Ed Airey explains more

As my colleague Derek Britton recently pointed out, IT must adapt to help customers to meet the challenges of change. We get that. That is why every new iteration of Visual COBOL has enabled owners of COBOL applications to innovate.

They create new products from long-established IT assets and Visual COBOL 2.3.1 continues the narrative for those running COBOL on Windows or UNIX or Linux.

For Micro Focus it signals a further commitment to future-proofing the core applications that run the business. For our customers it offers more options to deliver the products their customers demand and dealing with change, both planned and unplanned. But what does that mean? And how does the new version help?

Platform alteration

The increasing pace of change is driving the need to innovate faster and IT is the key to delivering it. Whatever the end product, it must be delivered cost-effectively. For some organizations, that means changing operating systems and platforms. The freedom of open source, personified by Linux, offers new options and freedoms.

IBM recognize the new direction, hence their investment in Linux on Power and LinuxOne. These systems offer the robustness and performance of proven enterprise systems – up to 30bn transactions per day and 100 per cent uptime – and the option for continual innovation.

ibmpowerlinux

A new version for a new profile

Visual COBOL now supports systems running Linux on Power (LOP). More details here.  This new Linux capability is an incremental move that for some organizations could represent a sea change.

It’s a step forward reflected in another Micro Focus product update for mainframers. As this latest blog explains, the mainframe solution is also now at Enterprise 2.3.1.  So great news for friends of Big Blue who can now access the same tools and capability.

Visual COBOL has been in the open systems space for some time. It already supports SUSE Linux, but the move to LOP represents a new opportunity for owners of COBOL applications to utilize the power of flexible platforms offering ‘new project’ innovation and modern development options. VC1

So why is this significant?

For the modern IT enterprise, this move further consolidates the alignment of important entities.

COBOL’s resilience is well-documented. Micro Focus continues to invest millions of R&D dollars and future educational support in COBOL. The developer-driven #COBOLrocks Tech cast series open the door to new opportunities for those at the front line of application development. Aligning that potential with the flexibility of Linux extends the potential for innovation through application modernization.

It also further consolidates the relationship between IBM and Micro Focus. Our customer share a similar profile–enterprise, large in scale, core business systems–and their investment in Linux on Power gives those organizations with COBOL applications, powerful options to embrace future change.

One solution for every environment

Micro Focus supports platform choice. Which is why the new incarnation of Visual COBOL means that any environment can be customized to offer future flexibility, whatever the profile.

While LOP enablement is the stand-out feature of 2.3.1, Visual COBOL brings the same level of innovation and modernization to other processors. Languages are the same–Java was recently called out as, potentially, sharing COBOL’s resilience. No problem. Visual COBOL delivers unrivaled flexibility across your choice of modern language, platform or architecture. .

See what this means for your business applications – discover the depth of potential for application innovation in your organization–check out the Visual COBOL solution brief to learn more about this unique, flexible technology.

#MFSummit2016: product roadmaps and Tube maps

In the digital economy, our customers are contending with unprecedented user demand and an explosion of information to supply. We’re helping them build, operate and secure core IT services by building bridges between what works today and what is needed tomorrow. Here’s a personal reflection of my time at #MFSummit2016 in London.

To reach Prince Philip House, the venue for the inaugural Micro Focus customer conference, I had the choice of six different Tube lines. No wonder frequent users talk about the ‘complexity, cost and confusion’ of the London Underground.

Those problems end for most commuters when they get to work. For many of our customers, that is when they begin. As I explained in my keynote speech, innovation is both the culprit and the solution.

Recent disruptive technologies, including web, Cloud and mobile, are increasing opportunity and complexity in equal measure. Streamlining a process or delivering a new IT service, expanding core platforms, embracing new application technology, overhauling user interfaces, implementing new security controls … they all improve the customer experience while confusing the picture for the organisations.

Harry Beck knew how to express complicated systems in an attractive, linear way. So we drew inspiration from his finest work to map the scale of the complexity, cost and confusion facing our customers.

Tube

Platform alteration?

But these are only the known knowns. Like the London Underground, new lines are inevitable. So our first post-merger, cross-portfolio conference was a good opportunity to assess the challenges and set out our strategy to scale them. It was, after all, a summit.

Much of today’s business innovation is driven by consumer demand for the rapidly-evolving supply of information. These days we are all IT consumers with heightened expectations around access to refined information wherever we are, from our preferred device.

Meeting that demand adds to the complexity of already convoluted processes and the creation of confusing, disparate, heterogeneous systems. The cost is a given. These elements makes delivering effective innovation increasingly difficult just as demand is increasing.

But it can be done. Micro Focus enables its customers to innovate faster with lower risk by enabling them to embrace new technology while building on what already works, in essence bridging the old and the new.

So what does that mean for our customers? Put simply, we have assembled a portfolio focused on three primary capabilities; to build, operate and secure business-critical systems of applications and infrastructure.

MFsolutions

Our promise to customers is that they can innovate faster with lower risk. That means building the applications that meet the needs of the business today and tomorrow, operating data centers and business services with the best balance of cost, speed and risk and securing their data against the latest threats.

In summary

In his pre-conference blog, Andy King’s promise to delegates is that a visit to #MFSummit2016 would put them in a better position to navigate the challenges of business and IT change. The message seems to have resonated.

“As an application modernization consultant, I fully agree with the Micro Focus “bridging the old and the new” vision. Their Build technology is especially impressive and helps us deliver greater value, more quickly, to our customers”, Mike Madden, Director, Legacy IT.

RollsRoyce

SHARE-ing is caring

SHARE began as the first-ever enterprise IT community user group back in 1955 and is still going strong. The upcoming San Antonio event looks certain to be another great success. Here’s a sneak preview of the event and agenda.

SHARE

Since 1955 SHARE has provided education, networking opportunities and influence for the Enterprise Information Technology Community. It’s still voluntary and for 61 years its mission has remained steadfast; at its core it’s all about professional networking, Mainframe technology, education, professional growth and growing a strong community of like-minded technologists. And just like Mainframe technology, it’s moved with the times – check out the cool new look website complete with Social Media integration and you’ll see what I mean.

SHARE new look

The Dev is in the detail. Mainframe and COBOL AppDev

As proud members of the Mainframe and COBOL community Micro Focus has maintained a steady presence at SHARE events over the years. We’re now a bigger company that boasts SUSE Linux in our portfolio but does that make the event any less important for us? Absolutely not –both Micro Focus and SUSE will be at upcoming San Antonio event in March.

SanAntonio

We’ve spoken a lot recently about the digital age and how (and often contrary to popular perception) this is underpinned by so-called ‘legacy’ technology. SHARE provides a great opportunity to explore modern Enterprise computing challenges and how the mainframe world continues to meet them head on. This year SHARE has its own dedicated DevOps track, signalling the importance of this discipline as a topic in the ongoing Mainframe debate.  My colleague Ed Airey is looking forward to hosting his DevOps session ‘The Dev is in the detail: Appdev, DevOps and the IBM Mainframe’ and hopes to see many delegates join in to discuss how that discipline is shaping up. In his own words Ed explains: “We always look forward to the SHARE event as a highlight in the mainframe calendar. We are delighted not only to participate in the sessions and the exhibition hall, but also to present our mainframe solution to the SHARE community. Our focus this year on DevOps is in step with growing interest in this topic from the SHARE delegates”

Skills, Education, Rockhopper and Emperor

IT Skills too will be high on the agenda, after all Skills and Education is a core SHARE mission that we jointly spoke about on an IT skills webinar recently.  This year as a bigger Micro Focus we are particularly excited to be going as the value of Linux for enterprise workloads and new app innovation is sure to be the talk of the town.

Linux, at SHARE, has become a consistent topic of interest for its delegates.  IBM’s recent LinuxOne announcement and continued investment in Linux systems will certainly capture attention as well.  The SUSE team will be highlighting their recent capabilities including expanded enterprise grade scalability for core applications. For Enterprise IT shops interested in understanding how to implement Linux for new Mainframe app innovation, SHARE San Antonio won’t disappoint.

mainframe techies

Is it just for the Mainframe and COBOL Developer community?

Absolutely not.  The increasingly popular EXECUforum takes place for industry and commercial executives to come together, discuss key challenges and solutions, and share experiences too. IT Decision makers, Analysts and visionaries will all be there discussing challenges like Big Data, Analytics, Mobile, Skills, Productivity and the highly relevant DevOps methodology.  Micro Focus panellist Derek Britton comments; We are delighted to join the EXECUforum discussion panel this year. Our clients are driving towards DevOps as a means for improved application delivery, and we are helping them in a variety of ways to accelerate their implementation. We are only too pleased to be part of the discussion at SHARE”

San Antonio here we come…

We’re hoping many of our Mainframe and COBOL friends will be going too. Our brilliant #DevDay events are an ongoing testament to the value that face-to-face events bring to the Enterprise Tech community. Please stop by our booths to say hello to the Micro Focus and SUSE team who will be very keen to hear about your experiences. We’d also be honoured to see you at our sessions:

Our SUSE specific sessions:

What’s New with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems (see session details and add to your agenda here)

SUSE Manager at Large Scale (see session details and add to your agenda here)

DevOps specific sessions:

The Dev is in the detail: Appdev, DevOps and the IBM Mainframe (see session details and add to your agenda here)

DevOps:  Cultural Mindset (see the EXECUForum agenda here)

See you there, whether you’re planning to attend for a day, or the whole week…..

CVuJ_79UkAA1OOO.jpg large