Micro Focus and Microsoft to Enhance COBOL Alternatives on Windows
Published: July 22, 2008
by Alex Woodie
Microsoft and Micro Focus have extended their existing partnership to go after IBM mainframe shops and help them modernize their legacy COBOL applications. As part of the partnership agreement unveiled and new products announced recently, Micro Focus' COBOL compilers for Windows have gotten deeper hooks into Visual Studio, enabling them to run as managed code in 64-bit environments. A new Windows-based CICS application is also on the books for next year.
Microsoft and Micro Focus have been partners for many years. It's a natural partnership, really, as Micro Focus specializes in COBOL compilers that enable mainframe applications to be ported to operating systems that run on cheaper, standards-based hardware, namely Windows, Linux, and Unix. With last year's acquisition of Acucorp--the other main player in COBOL application modernization--Micro Focus solidified its position as the dominant player for mainframe shops looking to move off expensive IBM hardware.
As part of the agreement, Microsoft and Micro Focus promised to more deeply integrate Micro Focus' collection of modernization and development tools into Microsoft's development and runtime environments. Specifically, it calls for enabling Micro Focus' Net Express, SOA Express, and Enterprise Server products to produce 64-bit managed code that will run on Windows Server. Managed code is cleaner and more secure, according to Microsoft, and allows greater reuse than unmanaged code.
As a result, COBOL source code that's run through Micro Focus' Windows compilers (which work as plug-ins to MS Visual Studio) gain greater compatibility with Microsoft's array of Windows middleware and runtime components, including SQL Server, BizTalk Server, Team Foundation Server, Systems Center Operations Manager, and, of course, the ubiquitous .NET Framework.
Some of the promises were delivered when Micro Focus announced the new version 5.1 releases of its products, including Server Express (for Unix) and Net Express (for Windows). The new release of Net Express, called Net Express with .NET, supports Visual Studio 2008, along with its new Windows Presentation Foundation API, which will allow users to create more modern-looking graphical user interfaces for their Windows COBOL applications, as well as the Windows Communication Foundation API.
In 2009, the companies reportedly plan to deliver a new transaction processing environment for Windows, called CICS.Net. This should allow mainframe shops to move their critical customer information control system (CICS) environments to Windows, or enable them to keep running on the mainframe.
In other news, Micro Focus announced its preliminary financial results for 2008, too. The company's whose stock is traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), reported that revenue was up 33 percent, to $228.2 million. License revenue was up nearly 19 percent, to $100.4 million, with a sales increase in North America contributing significantly to the bottom line. After tax profit was $55.4 million, a 26 percent improvement over last year.
"I am delighted to report strong financial results for the year," said Micro Focus CEO Stephen Kelly. "Whilst we recognize the current uncertain macro economic conditions, the defensive characteristics of our business model, combined with the relevance and compelling nature of our solutions, lead us to view 2009 with confidence."
Micro Focus' stock remained mostly flat at $246 per share, up significantly from its March low of $178, but down from its November high of $355.
Micro Focus Acquires Liant for COBOL and PL/I Tools
Micro Focus to Acquire NetManage for $73.3 Million in Cash
Micro Focus Builds Closer IBM Ties
Micro Focus Buys COBOL App Modernization Rival Acucorp
Micro Focus Joins with Partners to Modernize Legacy Apps
Micro Focus Supports 64-Bit Linux-Itanium Combo for COBOL
Microsoft and Micro Focus Go After Mainframe Apps
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