Protecting your Greatest Assets and Limiting Risk During an OpenVMS Transition Part One: Your Development Team

Senior IT development managers often tell us there are two things at the top of their list of most valuable assets: their proprietary business logic – the smarts at the heart of their strategic business applications – and their people – developers who uniquely combine their business knowledge and expertise with technical know-how.

As IT managers around the world try to understand what HP’s 2020 support road map for OpenVMS means for their organizations, they now realize that these important assets –their business logic and technical know-how — are at risk.

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Increase Development Output with Cross-functional Development Teams

A common issue we hear from clients is “we like our application but our developers don’t have the necessary skills.” Many companies are running applications that were built by programmers who have since left the company.  Their current programmers are highly skilled but are not familiar with the language the original programmers used.  Instead of hiring new developers or replacing the application, the companies want to find a solution that enables their developers to work on the application.

If this situation sounds familiar, NXTware Remote might be the solution your company is looking for.  The following scenario demonstrates how one company used NXTware Remote to solve the problem of aligning developers, projects and skills:

Alex is a manager at a mutual insurance company.  His team of Java developers engineered new applications using Java and the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE) on Windows and Linux-based computers but did not have the skills to work on the OpenVMS platform. 

Due to the small number of COBOL and C programmers in the company, Alex began evaluating his options.  He came up with three solutions: replace the OpenVMS systems, hire new C and COBOL programmers or find a solution that enabled his team to work on OpenVMS.  The company decided the third option was ideal.  They would find a solution that enabled Alex’s team to work on OpenVMS, had an Eclipse IDE and enabled remote development on OpenVMS Alpha/Integrity servers.

Looking for the most cost-effective and functional solution, management turned to eCube and its NXTware Remote product.  With NXTware Remote, Alex’s developers can be more productive using the skills they already have.

After implementing NXTware Remote, the company improved development productivity.   Now, Alex’s team can develop on OpenVMS platforms using the skills they already have.

Learn more about this project and its outcome in our NXTware Remote Case Study

If you are interested in getting more out of your development teams and your existing applications contact us.  We are helping companies like yours modernize their development processes and tools so they can be more productive and lower the cost of bringing new developers on board.

Breathing New Life into Old Systems

Created in the late 50s, COBOL remains one of the most widely deployed programming languages running business data applications on legacy systems, accounting for nearly 75% of all transactions. However, changing business models and demands are causing dilemmas as IT managers consider whether they should update their business processes.  The main problem with updating is the high cost associated with maintaining a platform. Furthermore, re-writing can jeopardize organizations’ ability to replicate codes, especially since the number of programmers who are familiar with COLBOL keeps reducing each year. (NASCIO’s 2008 National Survey on Legacy Systems and Modernization in the States) Lastly, sometimes people avoid changing systems out of fear of losing ownership of older applications.

Fortunately, the limitations of COBOL have also brought new development philosophy and methodology. There are viable and safer alternatives within reach as you can now edit different code with plug-ins, even if you’re not convinced to jump on the COBOL to Java bandwagon.  Also, you can remote browse, compile, debug, and deploy on any server.

Take a closer look at one of our real-time cases:

On Our Radar in 2013: Part One

There will be many unexpected developments in 2013 so our job is to be prepared.  Of course, experience is the best preparation.  Our experience and work with Fortune 1000 companies in 2012 put several important trends on our radar.  The trends represent challenges and opportunities but we are prepared to help your company make decisions to drive value.

As we see important trends pop-up on our radar, we will share them with you here.  So far, trends we are noticing involve continued industry consolidation, the impact of 64-bit technology, and the difficulties companies are having responding to business change with legacy CASE tools like COOL:Gen.

Industry Consolidation

Industry consolidation will continue to generate consequences for enterprises that have related strategic applications.  Although the specific impact on operations is hard to predict, systems built on pre-SOA middleware need to be especially agile with the changes of ownership and/or philosophy in the JAVA and CORBA middleware markets that occurred in 2012.  Our focus on integration, consulting, and development tools, based on open standards like Eclipse and our NXTware Remote platform, will help users manage these challenges with the greatest adaptability.

64-bit Technology

64-bit technology has been around for years but library changes made by operating system and database vendors will force the recompilation of more legacy applications in 2013.  Because 64-bit libraries cannot be compiled with 32-bit libraries, the recompilations are more extensive and have wider ranges of dependencies.  Based on our experience, you can expect these projects to be more complex and demanding.  Thorough assessments are key to the success of these projects as they help ensure the most effective path is taken to 64-bit support.

Transition away from COOL:Gen and related Legacy CASE tools

The third trend we have noticed involves legacy COBOL applications built with Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) systems like COOL:Gen (aka Advantage:Gen and AllFusion Gen).  These applications are loosing the ability to respond to business change.  Firms using this technology will be forced to look at converting these applications into standard formats that can be more easily maintained.  For years, companies have tried to convert these systems to Java or another contemporary language.  However, the cost and complexity of this approach is proving to be too much.  In 2013, we believe that companies will choose a simpler solution and move to the standard easily maintainable COBOL.  This quarter, we will be introducing new solutions in this area.

We are positioned to help customers make these transitions and face whatever technological challenges 2013 may bring.  As more trends pop-up, we will discuss them here.