Micro Focus Streamlines Modernization Activities with Workbench 3.1
February 23, 2010 Alex Woodie
Many organizations have a desire to modernize their older “legacy” applications to bring them up to current standards with regards to user interface, integration, scalability, compliance, and maintainability. But in many instances, the first step can be the most difficult one. Where do you begin to unravel the “spaghetti code” and isolate business processes buried in the code? One vendor providing a starting point is Micro Focus, the U.K. company that recently solidified and simplified its Modernization Workbench with the release of version 3.1.
Micro Focus obtained the Modernization Workbench in late 2008 with its $9.7 million acquisition of Relativity Technologies of Raleigh, North Carolina. The acquisition made sense for Micro Focus because it had built up a substantial base of mainframe and midrange customers–through its own COBOL compiler business and several acquisitions, including COBOL compiler developer Acucorp in 2007, COBOL and PL/1 compiler developer Liant in 2008, and terminal emulation and Web-enablement tool vendor NetManage in 2008.
The smart money at the time said those midrange and mainframe customers would rather modernize their legacy COBOL, RPG, and PL/1 applications–into which they had invested many billions of dollars–instead of replacing them with a shrink-wrapped product or re-writing them from scratch in a more “modern” language like Java or C#. And with the onset of recession and a big IT spending slowdown, the economic mandate to do more with less served to make the legacy application modernization gamble even more lucrative.
Prior to the acquisition of Relativity, Micro Focus offered a pair of tools geared at helping customers gain a greater understanding of their applications: Revolve, an IT analysis tool designed to provide a “bird’s eye” view of an organization’s IT assets, and Enterprise View, a more robust product that delivers impact analysis metrics and “what if” analysis capabilities.
Micro Focus took the first step toward combining Revolve and Enterprise View into the Modernization Workbench with the delivery of Modernization Workbench version 2.1 last spring. Some of the reporting capabilities of Revolve and Enterprise View were made available to Modernization Workbench users, but the data remained in separate repositories.
Now, with the launch of Modernization Workbench version 3.1, Micro Focus has delivered much deeper integration among the products. This includes adding all of the functionality and intellectual property (IP) of Revolve directly into the Workbench. The powerful Enterprise View product is still sold as an optional add-on, but it shares a repository with the Workbench instead of residing in a separate environment, according to Peter Mollins, director of product marketing for Micro Focus.
The delivery of a single repository across Modernization Workbench, Revolve, and Enterprise View is a key productivity enabler, Mollins tells IT Jungle.
“Anybody in the organization that needs that information–whether its a CIO that wants to decide about what to do, whether it’s an architect who wants to look and see where there are architectural issues, whether it’s a development manager who wants to start planning development tasks, or whether it’s a developer doing impact analysis for change requests–each person can get the right kind of information they need in order to do what they need to do,” he says.
The upgraded Workbench goes far beyond simply parsing legacy RPG, COBOL, Java, C, C++, and PL/1 code, and identifying relationships, entities, and dependencies–the hardcore documentation used primarily by programmers. Thanks to the integration with Revolve and EnterpriseView and the capability overlay metadata filters on legacy applications, various stakeholders can get answers to questions like: Which application components are used by which business organizations? Which application components are changed the most often? And which applications are the most complex, riskiest, and expensive?
Other new features in version 3.1 include: bolstered support for applications written in Java and Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (JEE); better support for business logic contained in job schedulers, including those from CA and Tivoli and others that integrate via XML; better compliance with new regulatory requirements such as ICD-10; and support for Microsoft SQL Server to run the underlying repository (previously only Oracle and IBM DB2 for LUW were supported).
While the bulk of Workbench customers are z/OS mainframe and distributed Unix/Linux users, a growing number of i/OS shops are inquiring into the Workbench, for several uses, Mollins says.
“What we’ve seen with System i shops is they’ll be looking to mine business logic from existing applications so they can understand what’s really going on with the system and how it behaves from a business perspective,” he says. “They’re also looking to recover documentation. If an application was developed 15 years ago, and the folks [who developed it] moved on, they’d like to re-harvest that knowledge so the new generation of people that are coming in to work on that System i application know how the application was structured and how it behaves so they can be more productive.”
Application data mining for the purpose of reusing business logic–a key component of the current service oriented architecture (SOA) trend, as well as “modular programming” trends of decades past–is also popular among all customers, Mollins says.
Modernization Workbench version 3.1 is available now. Pricing starts in the mid five digits and ranges to the upper six digits, depending on size of installation. For more information, visit www.microfocus.com.