November Industry News

Life For COBOL Programmers After Year 2000

Contrary to some recent industry reports, the demand for COBOL programmers will not plummet following rectification of the Year 2000 issue, according to information technology consultants at IMI Systems, Inc. Some reports have suggested that the need for COBOL-literate personnel will nosedive early in the Year 2000, pushing older programmers back into retirement and younger ones who have acquired COBOL skills into re-training programs.

A number of impending legacy conversion efforts will drive future spikes in the demand for COBOL, including The European Monetary Union, whereby the EMU conversion effort will closely follow Year 2000 with respect to the requirement for COBOL literacy. Another major factor will be the Ten-Digit Telephone Conversion, as all possible seven-digit phone number combinations are being used, and the U.S. eventually needs to implement ten-digit numbers. This will be another massive legacy conversion effort.

Other factors include System Reviews, since the amount of COBOL code has increased greatly as a result of current Y2K efforts and more consultants will be hired to maintain systems. Competition will also come into play as consultants and programmers who jumped on the COBOL bandwagon as an economic venture move on to the next hot IT topic and slots open up for those programmers who hope to stay in the field.

StreamServe’s Output Management Solution SAP R/3 Certified

StreamServe, a provider of Intelligent Output Management software solutions, announced that its solution has been certified for SAP R/3. StreamServe’s solutions create high quality, functional and data-driven dynamic documents for mission-critical processes, such as invoicing, procurement, warehouse management and distribution in formats, such as formatted text, PDF, HTML, XML and bar-codes. The StreamServe, as a complementary solution, is fed information and standard documents from business solutions, such as R/3.

Carried out under SAP's Complementary Software Program (CSP), StreamServe’s successful completion of R/3 certification will result in a packaged standard product, StreamServe Connectivity Pack for R/3, available for General Release in early fourth quarter 1998. A Limited Release will be made available for selected SAP R/3 customers in September 1998.

In case of the StreamServe Connectivity Pack for R/3, the StreamServe Server receives transactions in the form of structured, unformatted data via the standard R/3 BC-RDI Raw Data Interface that is supported in R/3 release 4. The Server then formats, further processes and distributes the information across multiple channels, such as via fax, e-mail, EDI and the Internet, based on the content and intended receiver.

Enhanced Enterprise Solutions for the Euro and Y2K

Enabling companies to revamp their application software to ensure euro-compliance, ADPAC’s CURRENCY analyzes and implements the euro conversion. ADPAC’s CURRENCY Code Change automatically implements changes to the elements identified by ADPAC’s CURRENCY IMPACT to be impacted by the euro conversion. CURRENCY Code Change quickly verifies the impacted element information to determine its current status and allows the user to define which elements should undergo a conversion. ADPAC’s Code Change also includes a monetary conversion tool, allowing users to make on-the-fly changes from any currency to any other currency following the rules as defined by the European Monetary Union. The ADPAC CURRENCY suite can parse COBOL and PL1 for the MVS/OS390 platforms. The ADPAC CURRENCY suite is also a management tool, enabling forecasting of various costs involved in the conversion.

In addition, ADPAC also announced the implementation of their Year 2000 System Wide Analysis Team (SWAT) program. An intensive training session based on the company’s flagship software, SVCOMMANDS, ADPAC’s Y2K SWAT is the first program designed to help companies mange the aftermath of converting software applications for Y2K. Enabling companies to have a rapid response team in place for managing post-conversion incongruities, Y2K SWAT training will also address the myriad of problems that are arising now due to their internal conversion process. The Y2K SWAT program will further assist companies in their efforts to identify and resolve any glitches encountered prior to or during the highly-anticipated technological challenge posed by the millennium. The Y2K SWAT training will sensitize teams of IT professionals to the specific challenges presented by - as well as remedies to - the Y2K crisis.

IBM and Siemens Nixdorf Extend Tape Technology Relationship

IBM and Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems expanded an OEM agreement that enables Siemens Nixdorf to become the first OEM partner to acquire the entire family of IBM Magstar tape products. In addition, the two companies cooperate in the development of a tape subsystem controller for IBM 3490 Model F channel-attached tape products. Magstar for BS2000/OSD Customers Extending the existing OEM agreement for Magstar 3590 tape subsystems Siemens Nixdorf will also supply its BS2000/OSD customers with the award-winning Magstar MP tape subsystem. The Magstar MP 3570 has been enhanced to deliver 7MB/second native sustained data rates, allowing customers to back up larger amounts of data in less time.

In addition, the relationship between the two companies involves the development of a tape subsystem controller for IBM 3490 Model F channel-attached tape products. Siemens Nixdorf is supplying the co-developed controller to IBM. This cooperative development broadens a long-standing OEM relationship that has lasted more than 10 years, under which IBM has provided storage subsystems to Siemens Nixdorf for integration into its server systems. This joint effort is expected to improve both companies’ time-to-market for their respective tap subsystems.

Upgrade Version of StarSQL

StarQuest Software released the upgrade to its flagship product, StarSQL, which provides fast, seamless transfer of data from IBM databases on mainframe, midrange or UNIX systems into ODBC-enabled PC applications through either a TCP/IP or SNA network. As a result, end-users are able to transparently access DB2 data from ODBC-supported desktop applications such as MS Excel, BusinessObjects or Crystal Reports, or through tailored applications. Because the driver runs entirely on the desktop, there is no need for additional software or hardware gateways.

StarSQL v2.6 features include a password management that allows users to change their mainframe or AS/400 host password from the desktop, eliminating the need for terminal emulation software. Support for accounting information provides data to the DB2 trace facility, so that large organizations have a method of charging back and monitoring distributed connections. A new installer provides additional support for desktop software management tools and eases installation for large number of users. StarSQL is thread safe for NT server applications provides high capacity, production quality, data access; uses the international open standard Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA); and supports the native security mechanisms of DB2.

New Architectures Emerge

According to Paul Harmon, Director of the Cutter Consortium’s Distributed Computing Architecture Advisory Service, "Today, most companies are transitioning from more traditional architectural assumptions to new architectures that incorporates the Internet, changing middleware standards, component frameworks and technologies and practices designed to increase software reuse. For many, the idea of a distributed computing architecture is at the heart of this transition."

The Cutter Consortium’s Distributed Computing Architecture Advisory Service is designed to provide companies with the information and consulting support they need as they create and exploit a distributed architecture. The service not only focuses on middleware and associated operating system considerations, but on components and application frameworks. It will also consider the middleware products and component tools that are so critical to making distributed systems work and to developing reuse-based organizations.

Says Harmon, "Many organizations are debating the advantages of various approaches to handling distributed computing. Debates of this kind can be confusing, since they involve so many different considerations that all interact. A distributed architecture involves selecting vendors and component models. It involves the creation of corporate application frameworks and organizational processes for component based development. And, in many cases, it involves changing the way a company’s IT development is done and committing to training programmers in new skill sets."

Compaq to Sell a Web-Based Data Mart Solution

Information Builders and Compaq announced an enhanced relationship through which Compaq will sell a Web-based data mart solution for OpenVMS (VAX or Alpha) or Windows NT (Intel or Alpha) based on Information Builders SmartMart and WebFOCUS products. The Compaq offering is called the Web Data Mart Suite.

The Web Data Mart Suite is a complete, scaleable, single-vendor solution which provides all the tools to build, manage and use a Web-based or client/server data mart. This leads to faster deployment and lowers the risk of having to piece together technologies from multiple vendors. Included are tools for, data extraction, transformation and movement, reporting and analysis, Web access and administration.

The Compaq Web Data Mart suite’s architecture includes Information Builders’ EDA technology, which gives users the ability to access and join data located in more than 70 database structures (both legacy and relational) on more than 35 operating platforms, and works with all security systems and network architectures. In addition, WebFOCUS offers reporting, analysis and decision support on the Web. This unique facility generates reports in HTML for display on any standard Web browser, provides drill-down capability, creates ad hoc reports, and centralizes the scheduling and distribution of reports via the Web, e-mail or printers.

CIOs Say Internet Messaging Security is Major Concern

System security and reliability topped a list of concerns that CIOs have about their electronic messaging systems, and those systems have become a key component of achieving their organization’s corporate objectives, according to a Tally Systems Corp./CIO Magazine survey released today. In a poll of 344 CIOs conducted in April of this year, 71 percent of the respondents listed security of their organization’s messaging systems as an issue that has been a concern over the last six months, while 61 percent also listed system reliability as a concern.

Even if they aren’t talking about it, a majority of the CIOs polled are doing something about messaging security. More than 60 percent of the respondents to the Tally Systems/CIO study said they were monitoring corporate e-mail, Internet and fax usage. Over 43 percent cited security/auditing as their primary reason for doing so.

With 66 percent of the survey respondents rating E-mail as "extremely important" to their organization’s overall corporate objectives, and another 27 percent rating E-mail as "very important," taking away access, or attempting to block access is simply not an option.

SmartEnterprise Solutions Division

Geac is combining its EnterpriseServer and SmartStream Divisions, providers of cross platform administrative software applications, to form the Geac SmartEnterprise Solutions Division. By combining the two business units, Geac plans to deliver an enterprise strategy that will allow customers to continue to leverage current investments, while benefiting from the latest technology advancements.

Approximately one-third of the current combined customer base uses products from both units. The new organization's common product development, customer support, and marketing efforts mean customers will have a single point of contact for all of their enterprise application and reporting needs.

Reporting to Dr. James Treleaven, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Geac SmartEnterprise Solutions Division, will continue to invest in the core functionality of both the mainframe and client/server application suites, while focusing on a common strategy for information reporting, Internet-enablement, object technologies, and conversion and migration tools. Geac’s new SmartEnterprise Solutions Division will be able to deliver a more comprehensive reporting strategy that is designed to give customers intelligent access to the business data that lies within all of the enterprise applications.