Page 1

The Need for Mentoring Women in Technical Roles

A Division of The Cobol Group, L.L.C.

February 2009

The Scoop On NetCOBOL and Alchemy Solutions!

Travel Products for COBOL Road Warriors!

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix

New job site dedicated to finding COBOL Jobs CobolJobSearch.com


www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009


COBOL MAGAZINE

Index

Features in the February 2009 Issue Cover Story COBOL Adapts - See how COBOL continues to adapt and innovate

11

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix … 3

COBOL continues to adapt to new and changing times. GUI, XML, .NET, Cloud Computing, Thin Client, Java interfaces, cross platform development and the list goes on and on. That combined with the ease at which it can be learned makes COBOL the language of the future. The impact that COBOL has had on the computing industry is immeasurable. It drives most of the worlds largest business systems. Read more inside …..

CONTEST! Cobol Magazine is sponsoring the first “COBOL Programmer of the Year Award” Take the challenge and write a new application on COBOL for the internet. Don’t have a COBOL Compiler? We can help. Check out CobolOnline.com for links to download evaluation versions of the latest compilers.

COBOL 50th Anniversary Celebration and Convention

Anita Borg Institute

at The John S. Knight Center in Akron Ohio, September 18 - 20 2009 See back cover of magazine.

The Need for Mentoring Women in Technical Roles …..

8

COBOL World The Scoop On NetCOBOL and Alchemy Solutions With the number of COBOL vendors decreasing through recent acquisitions, COBOL Magazine got the scoop on NetCOBOL® and associated products (NeoKicks™, NeoBatch®, NeoSort™ and NeoData) produced by 16 Fujitsu... www.CobolMagazine.com

Travel Products for COBOL Road Warriors Some COBOL programmers are road warriors. You go where the job takes you. This requires planes, trains and automobiles ….

13

February 2009

1


◊ Welcome

from

the

PUBLISHER ◊

I’ve spent many hours scouring the internet searching for COBOL applications. What amazes me is, given the huge number of talented COBOL programmers, why aren't there more applications? Is it that COBOL programmers are un-aware of the capabilities of the compilers offered by companies that include Alchemy, Veryant, Microfocus and Open COBOL? I believe that is the case. Jobs are scarce, not just for programmers but for everyone. COBOL jobs are being outsourced to India and other countries. Companies struggle with the task of migrating away from COBOL in search of new technologies. Meanwhile, COBOL continues to adapt. I’ve been a COBOL programmer for 40 plus years and I have tried to understand exactly what applications could not be written in COBOL. So far I have not seen one application that could not be written in COBOL. How do we turn the tide? First and foremost, we need to organize. We need to make it easy for programmers to be found and jobs to be listed. Directories need to be maintained that list contractors, recruiters, and information relevant to COBOL. The COBOL Group and COBOL Magazine are working hard to meet these needs. Each site in the group is designed to bring together the resources necessary to breathe new life into our industry. In the next few weeks COBOL.Jobs will be complete. On this site you will see links to websites of interest to COBOL professionals. You will be able to post your resume, search for jobs and contracts, search lists of recruiters, find a complete list of products that allow evaluation downloads and much more. There is also a site dedicated to COBOL Telecommuters. September 18-20 2009 COBOL Magazine along with Veryant, producers of isCOBOL will sponsor a 50th birthday celebration and conference at the John S. Knight Center in Akron, Ohio. I urge everyone with an interest in COBOL to attend. We will have interesting speakers, training tracks and a diverse mix of COBOL professionals from around the world. Go to www.CobolAnniversary.com for more information.

DISPLAY “Welcome to COBOL Magazine!”. Frank Gauthier Publisher STOP RUN.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

2


COBOL MAGAZINE

isCOBOL

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix

By Dovid Lubin, Veryant

isCOBOL allows programmers to take advantage of the best of both COBOL and Java by providing common ground between the two technologies. With isCOBOL, organizations can add the power and flexibility of the Java platform to existing COBOL programs and also make COBOL investments easily accessible to the Java world. This article briefly examines some of the synergies that exist between COBOL and Java technology and includes a few examples to illustrate how COBOL and Java programmers can incorporate each others technologies with the isCOBOL Application Platform Suite.

Common Business Oriented Language – 50 Years Young One of the original design goals for COBOL was to offer a programming language that would be easy to read and understand by managers with no programming training. Although managers rarely took advantage of that -- either fifty years ago or today -- a direct outcome of this goal is that the COBOL language is comprised of familiar English building block structures such as verbs, clauses, sentences, sections, and divisions. The Environment Division, for instance, is a set area found in all COBOL programs that describes the particular environment for which the program is written and all external references, such as to devices, files, currency symbols, and object classes that a COBOL application requires. A COBOL developer looking to move a program to a new platform or region knows that this centralized area of code will have to be reviewed and potentially altered to accommodate the new target platform’s requirements. COBOL’s straightforward programming approach, clear organizational structure, ability to deal with business logic, adoption of latest technological paradigms, and portability are some of the primary factors that contributed to its widespread adoption and persistence in the industry. Originally called Green, then changed to Oak, finally known as Java – 15 years mature The Java programming language leverages small, modular building blocks (known as object classes) that are tied together to form a complete application. Two important concepts in object-oriented programming are encapsulation and inheritance: • Encapsulation means that a Java class can be viewed as a "black box" whose internal workings are hidden. To use a class it is only necessary to know what the class does, not the details of how the class does it. As long as the public interface stays the same, the internal mechanisms of a class can be improved or the class can be replaced with a different one without impact on other components. Inheritance means that new classes can be formed using classes that have already been defined by leveraging and extending their functionality. Object classes can be easily assembled, disassembled, and reused in new applications as business requirements change. Since Java programs run in any environment that supports the proper Java Runtime Environment (JRE) they are extremely portable and can be moved between platforms without any program code changes. It is this modularity, portability, and reusability that contribute to the growing adoption of Java programming in the industry today.

COBOL with a dash of Java With isCOBOL APS, developers can quickly add a wealth of new functionality to COBOL applications by integrating free, reusable, modular solutions found in the Java SE and Java EE Development Kits as well as in various open source communities such as The Apache Software Foundation and SourceForge.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

3


COBOL MAGAZINE

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix

Solutions available to Java developers are now equally available to COBOL developers -- the challenge is only to identify the existing Java solution needed for a particular programming task and to write the COBOL code to interface with it. It is important to emphasize that to integrate these Java solutions, a COBOL programmer does not need to be trained and experienced in the Java language. The programmer’s only requirements are to be able to understand basic object-oriented concepts such as classes and methods, to know how to create an object and invoke a method in COBOL, and to understand how to read and use the Javadocs for the particular Java class to be used. These topics are covered in the isCOBOL APS Language Reference Manual and any beginner's book or online resource on Java programming As an example of the new functionality isCOBOL makes available to the COBOL developer, consider the full array of XML APIs and tools available to a Java programmer. To parse local XML files or XML from a URL, a COBOL developer could use the JDOM Java package. Here is a simple program that retrieves an XML document from a URL and parses the XML using JDOM. Developers can also take advantage of Java interfaces offered by third-party commercial software providers. For example, to add an electronic payment processing feature, a business could choose an electronic payment service provider and request the Java interface. The COBOL developer could use that Java interface directly from COBOL.

program-id. XMLfromURL. configuration section. repository. class J_Iterator as "java.util.Iterator" class J_Element as "org.jdom.Element" class J_SAXBuilder as "org.jdom.input.SAXBuilder" class J_Document as "org.jdom.Document" class J_URL as "java.net.URL" . working-storage section. 77 W_SAXBuilder object reference J_SAXBuilder. 77 W_Document object reference J_Document. 77 W_Element object reference J_Element. 77 W_Iterator object reference J_Iterator. 77 xml pic x any length. procedure division. main. try move "file:///C:/Program%20Files/Veryant/isCOBOL2008/sample "/issamples/files/Members.xml" to xml set W_SAXBuilder to J_SAXBuilder::"new" set W_Document to W_SAXBuilder::"build"(J_URL::"new"(xml)) set W_Element to W_Document::"getRootElement" set W_Iterator to W_Element::"getChildren"::"iterator" perform until not W_Iterator::"hasNext" set W_Element to W_Iterator::"next" as J_Element display W_Element::"getChildText"("first_name") " " W_Element::"getChildText"("name") " = " W_Element::"getChildText"("age") end-perform catch exception display exception-object end-try. stop run.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

4


COBOL MAGAZINE

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix

Java with a splash of COBOL With isCOBOL APS, developers can now write programs in COBOL that can be called directly from Java as if they were written in the Java language. Java developers do not need to learn COBOL in order to make use of COBOL assets. COBOL developers can present their subprograms as POJOs (Plain Old Java Objects). The Java developer receiving the objects needs only to know the class and method names, parameters, and return values to make use of them. The fact that the object class was written in COBOL or that it calls other COBOL subprograms is inconsequential. The isCOBOL Compiler automatically converts existing COBOL programs into POJOs. No COBOL code changes are required. The COBOL program name becomes the Java class name. The resulting Java class has a "call" method which Java code can invoke to call the COBOL program. If required, the COBOL developer can precisely define the program's object interface using object-oriented COBOL syntax. This COBOL object can accept and return Java data types to make the Java developer's task even easier. For instance, if an organization is looking to integrate with a JEE server and needs to deploy a Servlet, Web Service, or Enterprise JavaBean (EJB), etc. those can all now be created natively in COBOL. So what does this look like on the ground level to a developer? Let’s look at a few examples.

COBOL and Java Code Examples Example 1 – COBOL calling Java Here is the source code for a COBOL program that uses object-oriented COBOL syntax to access a Java class "java.lang.System" and use a Java data type "java.lang.String". PROGRAM-ID. obj-system. CONFIGURATION SECTION. REPOSITORY. class Sys as "java.lang.System" class JString as "java.lang.String" . WORKING-STORAGE SECTION. 77 pic-x-item pic x(50). * There are two styles for specifying classes in object references 77 jstring1 object reference "java.lang.String". 77 jstring2 object reference JString. PROCEDURE DIVISION. main. * There are 3 styles of invoking an object method * Use the INVOKE statement invoke Sys "getProperty" using "os.name" giving pic-x-item. display "Operating System: " pic-x-item. * Use the SET statement with the double-colon operator set jstring1 to Sys::"getProperty" ( "os.arch" ). display "OS Architecture: " jstring1. * Use the SET statement with the colon-greater-than operator set jstring2 to Sys:>getProperty ( "java.version" ). display "Java Version: " jstring2. goback.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

5


COBOL MAGAZINE

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix

This example demonstrates the use of the repository paragraph to define COBOL user-words that can be used to reference Java classes. It is also possible to specify the full Java class name when declaring a variable as an object reference. This example shows 3 styles of invoking methods. It shows the ability to use Java data types in COBOL statements taking advantage of the isCOBOL Framework to automatically convert the Java data type to the COBOL type that will work in that statement. This is just one example, any Java class and any Java data type can be used.

Example 2 - Java calling COBOL COBOL developers can write programs in COBOL that can be called directly from Java as if they were written in the Java language. Here is the source code for an object class "isobject" written in COBOL.

IDENTIFICATION DIVISION. CLASS-ID. isobj as "isobject". IDENTIFICATION DIVISION. FACTORY. CONFIGURATION SECTION. REPOSITORY. class jint as "int". PROCEDURE DIVISION. IDENTIFICATION DIVISION. METHOD-ID. method1 as "add1". WORKING-STORAGE SECTION. 77 var1 pic 9(9). 77 var2 pic 9(9). 77 result object reference jint. LINKAGE SECTION. 77 buffer object reference "java.lang.String". 77 num object reference jint. procedure division using buffer num returning result. MAIN. display "1st parameter: " buffer. display "2nd parameter: " num. display "> isobject.add1: result = num + 1". set var1 to num. compute var2 = 1 + var1. set result to var2 as int. goback. END METHOD. END FACTORY.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

6


COBOL MAGAZINE

How do you take your Java? A little dash or a splash of COBOL can make the perfect mix

LINKAGE SECTION. 77 buffer object reference "java.lang.String". 77 num object reference jint. procedure division using buffer num returning result. MAIN. display "1st parameter: " buffer. display "2nd parameter: " num. display "> isobject.add1: result = num + 1". set var1 to num. compute var2 = 1 + var1. set result to var2 as int. goback. END METHOD. END FACTORY.

This class has one method "add1" which takes a Java string and a Java integer, displays them to the standard output stream, adds 1 to the integer, and returns the result. The isCOBOL Compiler will output a file named isobject.class which can be used by the Java developer. Here is the source code for a Java program which uses the COBOL object "isobject" just as if it were written in Java language.

public class callCobolObject { public static void main( String args[] ) { String PAR1 = "BUFFER"; int PAR2 = 5; System.out.println ("I'm calling method isobject.add1 with "+PAR1+", "+PAR2); int RESULT = isobject.add1(PAR1, PAR2); System.out.println ("I'm back with: "+RESULT); System.exit(0); } }

Notice the call to isobject.add1(PAR1, PAR2) is simple Java code. The IDE used by the Java developer will assist with code completion. Even the IDE doesn't know that isobject.class was written in COBOL because behind-thescenes the isCOBOL Compiler converted the COBOL to Java source code. These are just a few examples of the collaboration and synergy that isCOBOL enables between the COBOL and Java worlds. Making your own perfect mix of COBOL and Java with isCOBOL should be …well, a piece of cake. Enjoy! Visit http://www.veryant.com/solutions/cobol_java_integration.php for the latest revision of this article and the source files.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

7


COBOL MAGAZINE

The Need for Mentoring Women in Technical Roles

At a 2007 Tech Leaders workshop, a leadership workshop for technical women from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, the discussion turned to mentoring. Young women throughout the audience spoke about how many mentors and champions they currently had. As the meeting progressed a woman in her early 50’s rose to her feet and spoke about the fact that in her whole career she had worked for and with men and to her knowledge she had never had a mentor. In listening to the discussion, she realized just how much she had lost in terms of opportunities for advancement, and with them real income, by not asking one of them to mentor her. What is a Mentor and why are women talking about them? Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship in which a more experienced person offers professional expertise as well as support to a less experienced colleague. You may have many mentors in the course of a career, as your skills develop and change and your role in the organization progresses. There is good reason for the popularity of mentoring. Research shows that being mentored leads to: higher job satisfaction higher promotion rates higher future income increased work success higher retention rates For women in technology, mentoring becomes even more critical as technical women experience the workplace very differently from technical men. In the Anita Borg Institute’s recent study, “Climbing the Technical Ladder: Obstacles and Solutions for Mid-Level Women in Technology,” 66.4% of mid-level technical women perceived the workplace as competitive vs 47.1% of men. Women experience the workplace culture less as a meritocracy and more as an environment that requires competition and connections in order to access power. For these women, having senior level mentors to guide them in a male dominated workplace is paramount to advancement. Given the benefits of being in a mentoring relationship, why don’t more technical women have mentors? Over 67% of mid-level technical women consider mentoring programs to be of high importance as a company practice. However, both men and women report that mentoring is one of the least rewarded work behaviors. Only 26% of women report that their technology companies are doing a good to excellent job in mentoring. While many companies have in place mentoring programs, they do not actively support mentoring as a core value. Here are some key tips for engaging in a mentoring relationship: For mentors: Offer sponsorship, provide visibility and exposure within the organization Bring critical information and opportunities to the attention of the protégé Share the unwritten rules of your organization including jargon, key stakeholders, culture, projects Act as a role model Provide institutional and professional wisdom and feedback Provide coaching and support

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

8


COBOL MAGAZINE

The Need for Mentoring Women in Technical Roles

Remember that women may have different modes of communication and may also have cultural differences. Remaining sensitive to this can help enhance the mentoring relationship. For those seeking a mentor: Understand your mentoring needs; what knowledge and skills do you want to develop? Where do you want your career to be in two years? Determine if your organization has a formal mentoring program and request to participate in this program Do not ask your boss to be a mentor – mentors are meant to be in a position to give you the big picture and long-term feedback Invest time in building the relationship with your mentor Not all mentor relationships are formal ones, seek out peers or members of other organizations to mentor you Join technical organizations or attend conferences that provide you with mentoring opportunities outside your organization, such as ACM-W and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (www.gracehopper.org). For companies, the most important factor for success for a mentoring program is to be sure to incorporate mentoring into the evaluation processes for all managers and executives. Have those being mentored provide feedback to the evaluation process to insure that mentoring is taking place. Many resources are available for companies and individuals interested in developing mentoring. The Anita Borg Institute in partnership with NCWIT developed a Mentoring-in-a-Box (http:// www.ncwit.org/resources.res.box.industry.html) kit that will provide tools to help start and sustain meaningful mentoring relationships. To find mentoring relationships outside your organization or to sign up to be a mentor go to www.mentornet.org. STOP RUN.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

9


COBOL MAGAZINE

COBOL Adapts!

COBOL Adapts! Like the WENGER GIANT Swiss Army Knife, COBOL adapts to changing needs. It used to be that COBOL was used primarily for batch high volume processing of data. Today that is far from the truth, as COBOL is involved in every aspect of computing. Microfocus ported its enterprise COBOL solutions to Microsoft Windows Azure cloud last December. Applications are being written to allow users to access COBOL data over cell phones.

www.swiss-army-knife-wenger.co.u

ODBC data access is now standard on the major compilers. Thin client allows access to legacy applications over the internet. One compiler from Veryant compiles to Java. This opens up the ability to write GUI applications that run transparently on any system that supports Java.

Alchemy Solutions NetCOBOL allows mainframe customers to .NET. If you like to use open source, try the Open Cobol Compiler. To download it go to http://www.opencobol.org/modules/mydownloads/. OpenCOBOL is an open-source COBOL compiler. OpenCOBOL implements a substantial part of the COBOL 85 and COBOL 2002 standards, as well as many extensions of the existent COBOL compilers. OpenCOBOL translates COBOL into C and compiles the translated code using the native C compiler. You can build your COBOL programs on various platforms, including Unix/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. The compiler is licensed under GNU General Public License. The run-time library is licensed under GNU Lesser General Public License. The major compilers come with a very nice IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Some are OO compatible. There are other compilers that are COBOL-like. Although the major compilers are a bit pricey, they are well worth the cost. COBOL Magazine is sponsoring a contest for programmers and others to create new and interesting applications and services using COBOL. We believe this will help spread the word about this wonderful language. No matter which compiler you choose, there are a multitude of options and capabilities. Considering the wealth of business knowledge COBOL programmers have, the resurgence of COBOL should be almost guaranteed. COBOL continues to adapt to changing needs. For those of you not familiar with COBOL here is an example of a simple COBOL program.

Identification division. Program-id. Sample_program. Environment division. Data division. Working-storage section. 01 number-of-months pic 9(6). 01 edit-number-of-months pic z(6). 01 display-number-of-months redefines edit-number-of-months pic x(6). Procedure division. 010-start. Display “Enter Your Age in Years”. Accept number-of-months with conversion. Compute number-of-months = number-of-months * 12. Move number-of-months to edit-number-of-months. Display “You are “ display-number-of-months “ months old”. Accept omitted. Stop run.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

10


www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

10


COBOL MAGAZINE

COBOL Road Warriors

By Kaeth Gauthier

Some COBOL programmers are road warriors. You go where the job takes you. This requires planes, trains and automobiles. While you can’t shorten the security lines, you can make the traveling life easier with products that are efficient. When I travel, I want to carry as little as possible in terms of weight and bulk. I search for products that make my life easier. Among the great products I found are a flashlight, clothes compactor and colorful wheeled luggage. Before you fly, especially if it’s been awhile, I recommend you go to http://www.tsa.gov/ and review the current rules. Just in case you pack something that isn’t allowed, take a padded envelope addressed to your home. This way you can mail it to yourself if you don’t want to discard the item. My favorite web site to shop for travel items is Magellan’s. Founded by two travel professionals to provide a single source of unique and useful travel products, the site includes customer comments about the products. Magellan’s

www.magellans.com

Magellan's Packing Cubes $16.85: Store your items in see-through mesh bags and security won’t have to re-arrange all your belongings. Made of lightweight, durable nylon the set of three includes one large (10 x 13 x 3"), one medium (7 x 10 x 3"), and one small (4 x 10 x 2½") bag. Ultra-Bright Pulsar™ Light $19.85: This tiny light glows with a high-powered white LED beam that can be seen from a mile away. It has an on/off switch in addition to a squeeze option. This meets my need to have a light I can hold in my teeth and light my way when my hands are full. I keep this on my night-stand in case of emergencies. It requires two lithium batteries which are included and has a lifetime guarantee. Initial Luggage Tag $9.85: It’s amazing how many people own black luggage that looks just like mine. This large (4¾ x 4¾") brightly colored luggage tag makes recovery easier. Made of sturdy leather, you can purchase your first or last initial. It has a buckle strap and covered window for your address. Pack-It® Compressor Set $19.85: This is the next item I plan to purchase. Eagle Creek’s Pack-It® Compressor removes air from your clothes and flattens them for more efficient packing. Put items in the triple-laminated plastic bag and roll the air out through the one-way valve. The set weighs only three ounces and includes one medium (24½ x 15½") and one large (28½ x 17½") reusable bag, along with excellent instructions. Customers say this is great for damp clothes and dirty laundry. Cool Max Travel Blanket by Cocoon $29.95: Comforting and lightweight, the CoolMax packs to only 3 ½” X 7” and weighs just 11 oz. It unfolds to a generous 55” x 70” breathes well and wicks moisture. Lands End

www.landsend.com

These folks are the pros when it comes to luggage. I’ve owned their carry-ons, duffels and wheeled luggage and am extremely happy with the quality. I (almost) wish some of it would wear out so I’d have a good reason to buy new luggage in a fun color. 20" Lighthouse Wheeled Carry-on $199.50: Made of durable 1680-dernier nylon, the bag resists tears and abrasions. Its lightweight frame makes it easy to wheel and carry. Ergonomic handles swivel and lock into a comfortable position easy to wheel on ball-bearing wheels. The bag has interior pockets as well as exterior pockets for magazines or boarding passes. Overall size is 13" W x 9" D x 20" H; weighs 9 1/2 lbs. GO TO PAGE-15. www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

11


COBOL MAGAZINE

COBOL Road Warriors

By Kaeth Gauthier

TSA Compliant Travel kit $8: TSA restricts liquids to containers of no more than three ounces enclosed in no more than one quart-sized, clear plastic zip top bag. This kit includes a sturdy, clear 1 quart, zip-top bag, four 2 oz plastic bottles for liquids and two 0.75 oz jars for creams.

Foldable Noise Canceling Headphones $39: Made by EarHugger this lightweight product reduces noise up to 15 dB. It includes an airline adapter, carrying pouch and AAA battery. The foldable design makes it easy to tuck in your pocket.

travelproducts.com/store/enter.htm TSA Compliant Travel kit

travelproducts.com/store/safety.htm

The New York Times Travel Journal $16: Whether you are stuck next to someone who wants to tell you boring stories, or delayed in the airport, you get lots of entertainment in one small 5” x 7” journal. There are a dozen crossword puzzles with solutions in the back, journal pages and brief articles about travel from the New York Times. It’s also a quick reference book with time and temperature conversions, time zones and a percentage chart for tipping.

Tie Caddy $8: Ties travel nicely in this compact clear plastic cylinder. The winding mechanism makes it easy to roll the tie and the clear case makes it easy to find the right tie. At 4-1/4" high x 2-1/4" you can pack several and protect your expensive ties travelproducts.com/store clothes.htm

travelproducts.com/store/journals.htm

Pro Travel Gear www.protravelgear.com Utopia Pillow & Bucky Bag by Bucky $25.95: A good pillow is essential for travel. One of the best pieces of travel advice I got was, “Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down and never pass up the chance to sleep.” This classic buckwheat U-shaped neck pillow includes a carry bag which snaps onto the pillow

STOP RUN. www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

12


COBOL MAGAZINE

The Scoop On NetCOBOL and Alchemy Solutions

With the number of COBOL vendors decreasing through recent acquisitions, COBOL Magazine got the scoop on NetCOBOL® and associated products (NeoKicks™, NeoBatch®, NeoSort™ and NeoData) produced by Fujitsu. Last month it was announced that the COBOL/Legacy Modernization team and products at Fujitsu Computer Systems had been acquired by TMV Holdings, a privately owned company, and set up as Alchemy Solutions Inc, a new company headquartered in Bend, Oregon. COBOL Magazine caught up with some key players in the industry and the management of the new company to learn what was behind this move and how it might affect people in the COBOL community. First we spoke to Ron Langer, COO and group president of Alchemy Solutions: COBOL Magazine: You’ve been with Fujitsu for over 12 years and achieved significant market presence for NetCOBOL. Why this move now to Alchemy Solutions? Ron: We certainly enjoyed working with Fujitsu and appreciated their support over the years for our mission of delivering NetCOBOL to the global market (outside Japan) and growing our modernize-as-youmigrate set of .NET-focused tools. However, we were a relatively small software group operating in a large, mainly hardware company. Although there was some synergy between our products we were never an essential part of the larger company’s vision. For example, purchasers of NetCOBOL do not need to purchase Fujitsu hardware and purchasers of Fujitsu hardware do not require NetCOBOL. Over time it became clear that if we were to fully capitalize on the software assets we had created (the “Neo” tools – NeoKicks, NeoBatch, NeoSort, NeoData) we needed to be part of an organization that had legacy modernization as one of its core strategies. Because growing our legacy modernization business also pulls NetCOBOL sales, Fujitsu recognized that this move made good sense to them. The creation of Alchemy Solutions is the culmination of several months’ effort to find the right partners and set up a new relationship with Fujitsu that maximize our potential for the future. COBOL Magazine: What does this mean for the NetCOBOL product in the global market? Ron: Initially we hope the only change people will notice is a name change – last year they purchased NetCOBOL from Fujitsu Computer Systems; this year they will purchase it from Alchemy Solutions. The software, people, and systems that they work with will be the same. Then, in the near term you will see the NetCOBOL line continue to be enhanced with new releases for Windows, .NET and Linux; and in the longer term, continuing responses to market requirements to ensure NetCOBOL is a competitive compiler for those who want to create rock-solid, highly functional, COBOL applications. COBOL Magazine: For those who may not be familiar with your products, can you give us some examples of what they do and how they are being used today?

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

13


COBOL MAGAZINE

The Scoop On NetCOBOL and Alchemy Solutions

Ron: Gladly. As NetCOBOL provides the foundation for all our products, I’ll begin there. Users of NetCOBOL range from small one or two-person operations to the largest corporations, and in many senses it provides the same benefits to all: a) A COBOL compiler that produces highly reliable code, supporting most common syntax elements and, particularly with NetCOBOL for .NET, allowing growth into and interworking in the object-oriented world of today’s Web applications. b) A no-charge runtime licensing model common to most other modern programming languages. The habit other COBOL compiler vendors have had of charging for runtime licenses is, at best an annoyance for COBOL users, and at worst a real threat to the viability of their business. I am sure this has been a factor in COBOL’s declining share of new application development. A typical example of NetCOBOL use would be an ISV application that is used by many universities. It can be delivered with the COBOL source code so that the applications can be tailored by each university. Many choose to compile it with NetCOBOL because of its reliability and no-runtime-fee model. We recognize the strengths of Microsoft’s .NET environment, and have built a number of tools that complement NetCOBOL for .NET. This enables users of IBM mainframe COBOL applications to move them to .NET, and modernize the applications in the process. These products are: • NeoKicks – Provides migration, development and production support for CICS COBOL applications, transforming BMS green screens into ASP.NET Web pages. • NeoBatch – Executes mainframe JCL in the Windows/.NET environment, with the option of converting it to JScript. • NeoSort – works with NeoBatch to provide highly optimized sorts. We set a world record for the Minute Sort in 2005 with this product. NeoData - migrates VSAM data to Microsoft® SQL Server® without rewriting legacy COBOL code. Users of our migration solutions range from those coming from large mainframes, like Crédit Agricole’s 1000 MIPS data warehousing applications that they migrated to Windows servers using NeoBatch, NeoSort and NetCOBOL, to those coming from much smaller mainframes. For example, United Transportation Union’s (UTU) mainframe was much smaller than the smallest new models available recently. UTU used NeoKicks, NeoBatch and NeoSort to do the migration and added NeoData as soon as it was released because it was a perfect fit for their needs. Saving money in new equipment purchases and annual IT budgets is a major benefit these companies enjoy from our products. COBOL Magazine: What is your perspective on the future of COBOL? Ron: I believe COBOL has a much stronger future than most people reckon. I say this for the following reasons:

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

14


COBOL MAGAZINE

The Scoop On NetCOBOL and Alchemy Solutions

1. The total amount of COBOL code used in production continues to increase. COBOL naysayers always seem to underestimate the effort required to rewrite those applications and overestimate the perceived benefits as well as people’s willingness to undertake such projects. 2. The progressive IT managers I talk to see absolutely no problem with using COBOL – particularly when it can integrate with the latest environments like .NET. 3. COBOL’s simplicity, compared to many recently developed programming languages, still gives it an advantage when it comes to maintaining code. Although I have a mathematics/computer science background, I still find it tricky to unpick the powerful, but highly nested statements of the more recent languages. I believe this is not just a question of familiarity but one of intrinsic complexity in these language forms. As long as you have highly competent programmers, this may not be a problem, but if your programming teams are not all high flyers, I see COBOL as the better vehicle to help them understand and maintain long-lived code. 4. The customers who have converted to our products, both NetCOBOL and the Legacy Modernization tools, have told us that the ability to retain and maintain their business logic has been extremely important to them. Companies who move to packaged solutions or companies who have their code rewritten in another language often risk losing those business rules that have been developed over years. It is those business rules that are sometimes the differentiators between those companies and their competitors. Those differentiators are too important to risk, and that is why COBOL works for so many companies. 5. Lastly, we have a strong business that has been built on pretty minimal marketing. Our Web site is consistently busy and we receive a constant stream of enquiries about our products – this obviously happens because there is a lot of interest in COBOL. In a November 2008 News Analysis entitled “Alchemy Becomes an Instant Player in IT Modernization” by Gartner Research Vice President Dale Vecchio (read the full paper at www.gartner.com ) (To navigate to the paper: select Analysts and Consultants, find an analyst by name, find and select Dale Vecchio, see the paper under his latest research.) Vecchio states, “Gartner believes the sale of these .NET-based products is good for both parties [Alchemy and Fujitsu]. Alchemy is free to continue to invest, develop and market them to Microsoft-centric clients. As a new entrant into this space, Alchemy can leverage these tools in the IT modernization market. Market awareness and a broader solution set will be its initial challenges. Alchemy also secured the distribution rights for the Fujitsu NetCOBOL line of products and will compete with Micro Focus for COBOL compilers in Windows environments. Fujitsu does not have runtime charges, as does Micro Focus, and we expect Alchemy to continue this strategy. Furthermore, we expect Alchemy to continue to support all current NeoKicks, NeoBatch, NeoSort, NeoData and NetCOBOL customers, distributors and resellers.” With Alchemy Solutions’ strong focus on .NET we wanted to know what Microsoft thinks of this move. We spoke to Scott Rosenbloom, senior product manager, Enterprise Modernization at Microsoft. COBOL Magazine: It looks like the team at Fujitsu and now Alchemy Solutions has been closely tied to Microsoft’s technologies. Do you think this is a positive or negative move with regard to Microsoft’s legacy modernization strategies?

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

15


COBOL MAGAZINE

The Scoop On NetCOBOL and Alchemy Solutions

Scott: Considering that Alchemy Solutions’ legacy modernization products are targeted solely at the Microsoft .NET environment; that the new owners are likely to invest more heavily than Fujitsu in the marketing and development of these products; and that we still have Fujitsu involved in the production of NetCOBOL, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is a wholly positive move from the Microsoft perspective. The Alchemy Solutions vision aligns very well with our legacy modernization strategies, so we expect to maintain the strong relationship we have had with this group. I’d imagine that the COBOL community would be excited by the news that Alchemy Solutions is taking on the NetCOBOL and Neo tools missions. New investment and new energy in this area has to help keep the COBOL market focused on the needs of its users. Finally, we checked-in with Basim Kadhim, CTO of Alchemy Solutions: COBOL Magazine: What are your visions for the future of the Alchemy Solutions technologies and products? In particular tell us how these will relate to the COBOL community. Basim: Our general vision is to continue to make it easier for people to move their applications from IBM mainframes to the .NET environment and then be able to take advantage of the features and technologies that are available or become available. To that end, we listen to our current and prospective customers to learn what features will give them the greatest benefits. Our new ownership has goals that are directly and strategically aligned with our technology mission and we see great opportunities to invest in making the technology that we provide even better. We hope that our vision gives a brighter future to the COBOL community as we give a route to take COBOL applications from a platform that is beholden to an ever shrinking set of vendors, to the Windows platform that continues to grow. Technology on the mainframe has great difficulty keeping pace with the technological innovation happening on the Windows Server platform. Microsoft has developed one of the most technologically advanced platforms, and continues to invest heavily to support a large and vibrant ecosystem of vendors and technologies. This provides an ever increasing set of technology options to customers that develop and deploy their applications on Windows and .NET. Our software facilitates the migration of customers’ applications and data to take advantage of highly scalable application server technologies such as ASP.NET, industry leading development tools including Visual Studio, and all of the other technologies that have been built up for .NET and Windows. For those who would rather take a non-Microsoft-centric route, we provide editions of NetCOBOL for Linux and the Solaris Operating Environment running on SPARC Architecture. These products offer customers a production quality compiler and runtime without the runtime fees that threaten many customers’ business models. In summary, we see a bright future for COBOL programmers who are prepared to bring their business application skills to new technologies and environments. This provides new opportunities to their organizations and preserves the integrity of data and business processes. Businesses benefit when they are able to realize the value of their existing IT investments on a cutting edge development platform with enabling technologies like ours instead of engaging in costly and error-prone rewrites. www.alchemy.com STOP RUN.

www.CobolMagazine.com

February 2009

16


COBOL MAGAZINE

Advertiser Index

EDI software solution that allows you to setup unlimited trading partners and documents! X12 & EDIFACT Translation Mapping for All Versions of EDI Standards Unattended Processing of EDI Data Supports Windows, Linux, and Unix Platforms

“XML-enable your existing COBOL applications easily using XML Thunder! Easy to use visual COBOL-XML mapper and 100% native COBOL code generator. Support for a rich set of XML features as well as for full COBOL data structure. Easy to use wizards for XML reader or XML writer generation. Supports the XML PARSE statement and generates the full program code in minutes. Document or Node level processing will satisfy all your COBOL based XML processing needs. Also generates ANSI C! Derive XML schema from COBOL or C data structures and vice versa. Please read more at www.xmlthunder.com. �

100% Cross Platform Portability Document Management & Reporting We also offer a low cost VAN solution with no long term service agreement or hidden fees.

www.Proedi.com

www.CobolMagazine.com

800-969-3341

COBOL Magazine (330)-858-0734

February 2009

17


Inventors Hall of Fame

Stan Hywet Hall

Cuyahoga Valley

Mustill Store

Simon Perkins House

COBOL 50thAnniversary and Convention September 18-20 2009 John S. Knight Center Akron Ohio We invite you to join us for an international birthday party for COBOL September 18, 2009 when COBOL turns 50. The celebration starts in New Zealand and will travel the globe through Australia, Japan, The United States. Brazil, France, England, Italy, and many others. Gather your colleagues or invite your COBOL group for a celebration. Record your party and beam it to other locations. Many venues will have a multi-screen view of people and celebrations. You can celebrate with your colleagues throughout the world and say hello to programmers who speak the same language, regardless of their country. The premier party in the United States is the COBOL Convention in Akron, Ohio. The celebration is preceded by information and training about new technology, innovation and applications for COBOL. Vendors will demonstrate hardware and software to enhance and expand the use of COBOL. Frank Gauthier Publisher COBOL Magazine


Cobol Magazine Feb 2009  

Cobol Magazine Feb 2009

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you