They have long been a belief of mine that you've a tightness of synergy relating to the Cloud and a large gang of mainframe applications which is not being exploited, mainly due to IBM’s antideluvian approach to the mainframe marketplace. So the news that Micro Focus is utilizing Microsoft to develop a mainframe reference architecture that will enable many mainframe applications and services to perform on Azure, and already has it being demonstrated to customers in Microsoft’s laboratories, is often a potentially significant development. This might be important on a amount of levels, most famously being the most obvious supposition that while Microsoft and Azure is key target platform for the present time the ability Micro Focus is wearing dealing with Linux and Unix must surely imply that more widespread availability of mainframe applications as time passes has to be a critical possibility. Micro Focus, obviously, will be the long-time leader in putting Cobol applications about the PC architecture - and the derivatives who have followed. That now includes every one of the commodity servers running in datacentres worldwide. Over those 30-plus years they have refined its Cobol compilers so that it is fully compatible with the standard definitions from the Cobol language.
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Many experts have compatible with IBM mainframe Cobol because the late 1980s. Which means the vast majority of business applications designed in Cobol to the mainframe environment can be ported right to Micro Focus and run using an array of other platforms. As Kevin Brearley, Product Management Director at Micro Focus, Cobol standards are important here. “The standards underpinning Cobol have allowed us to adopt the engineering from porting applications for users. Standard Cobol applications run using the Micro Focus runtime system, along with the runtime method is portable across platforms including Windows, Linux and Unix. ” While using arrival of Windows 7 gave Micro Focus the chance to build its Enterprise Server which provided the capacity to operate mainframe applications ported not just in Windows but also Linux and Unix. Is important to the Cloud ? Well yes. It is particularly important to Cloud companies, not least because those self-same systems have become in the middle of pretty much every datacentre on the planet, so this means every Cloud company presently has the opportunity power to host mainframe applications without expense. Moreover, Brearley suggests there are some $40bn-worth of packaged Cobol applications running on mainframes today Many of those applications are performing high quality financial, transactional and actuarial management tasks rich in amounts of security and efficiency. These are exactly the applications that now need to be in the Cloud alongside the frontline applications which are increasingly accustomed to generate the company these Cobol applications manage. Perhaps the most common argument used here is those of performance latency. The Cobol apps on mainframes may run like greased lightning inside the box, but the latency delays induced by transmitting results through the datacentres running the frontline applications to the back-end management tools running on-premise create a lot of problems. That's, Personally i think, one of the prime contributors to large enterprises continuing to retreat from Cloud services. But that argument could possibly be negated if those back-office management tools were also out in the Cloud, even just in the same datacentre. And based on Brearley this could be possible with a reduction of as much as 80% altogether cost of ownership compared to running the applications with a mainframe. He also noted another factor that may make Cobol useful for a Cloud environment. “It is usually self-documenting, so long-term support is very simple and cheap. It isn't dependent on a developer remembering to document the code, or staying alive to provide on-going support. ” Besides the Cobol compiler, Micro Focus also runs important IBM mainframe environments for instance CICS and IMS. It's re-engineered its CICS implementation as CICS.NET to run on Microsoft .NET environments. This is currently in beta test. “It uses exactly the same security processes as utilized on mainframe systems, so developers have to learn any new tricks. ” And that's one of many important secrets to the Micro Focus approach that will make Cobol a self-explanatory option for Cloud based operations. The corporation has experimented with remove the many engineering that might normally be necessary. As Briearley input it: “The normal route for software developers to maneuver Cobol applications with a Cloud environment is always to go `native’ for his or her selected platform. That might mean some very expensive re-engineering. Our aim is to do all of the engineering they require, so they can run Cobol applications not only on Microsoft Azure but also on Amazon using Linux or Unix. ” The production of Cobol inside the Cloud opens some important opportunities for users, applications software vendors and Cloud companies. What is more this can be yet another demonstration of collective capitalism for action, as Cobol’s value available on the market could grow with the mixture of all three. For the users, advantages would be the ability to get scalable resources for an application at the (relative) drop of the much less expensive expensive hat. Mainframe resources aren't cheap and possess to get licenced in large lumps. The ability to add virtual commodity servers offers both a less expensive and more granular alternative, with additional flexible, appropriate performance levels. Siting the trunk office revenue and business process management Cobol systems in the same datacentre as the front office revenue generation applications could circumvent the performance latency issues often cited like a block on moving towards the Cloud . It will also allow businesses to think with regards to holistic business services rather than distinct, isolated processes. Additionally, the applications can be readily portable between agencies, with good documentation making support far easier for that supplier. So this may help ease the road of existing mainframe-using large enterprises onto the Cloud , and also checking Cobol to new users. Applications vendors would've a far wider market open to them. Most of their applications could find a helpful home with a much wider selection of users, especially if we were holding stripped into leaner, meaner central functional cores. There's merely one reason the vast army of SMEs around don’t even think about using these Cobol applications - the fee. This would without a doubt are the steepest learning curve for that vendors to know and manage, except for those that did there might be good business to be had. Indeed, for many you have the real chance of taking their applications and turning them into SaaS offerings, maximising market penetration and minimising the implementation and support costs. If Micro Focus contains the foresight it could do worse than consider starting a SaaS Implementation Division, either offering apps vendors a SaaS delivery platform or consultancy to agencies trying to create aggregation services. And as well as that opportunity, providers could do worse than browse partner with Micro Concentrate on implementation and support services because of its Enterprise Server leastwise. The company’s targeting of Microsoft Azure has some sense, including because many large enterprises will likely feel some reassurance for the reason that brand if moving mainframe Cobol applications towards the Cloud. Though the new Mainframe Reference Architecture must also prove a decent lever on many of the larger agencies and systems integrators with existing close relationships to Microsoft. Along with the fact that Cloud services using Enterprise Server will also be supported on Amazon should give encouragement to companies more oriented towards Linux or Unix.