Extending Legacy Technologies, Quantifying Costs and Mainframe Skills Crisis?

Readers comment on past issues.

Extending Legacy Technologies
I enjoyed Joe McKendrick's April column ("How Best to Extend Legacy Technologies?") on host integration.

Our organization is rich with COBOL expertise and business knowledge, and little in the realm of Webifying our legacy applications. Our GUI tools must support IBM's CICS VSE/ESA (running under VM as a guest) with VSE DL/1 hierarchical databases and VSE VSAM files. We're looking at IBM's Visual Age Generator.

Does Joe have any suggestions or resources on tools that would help us build a Web front-end to our COBOL legacy applications? Also, how could I get a copy of the Gartner report he mentioned?

—David L. Robinson, DBA
Virginia Supreme Court
Richmond, Va.

The Gartner report sums up the options for legacy integration. Request a free copy at: www.jacada.com/legacy-to-web/.

Choose "Application Development in Transition: From Legacy to the Internet." (Expect a follow-up call from Jacada after you've downloaded the report!)

A basic and inexpensive approach to Webifying front-ends to COBOL applications is screen-scraping, in which 3270 screens are presented through a browser as green screens or dressed up with buttons and more colorful backgrounds. IBM, Attachmate and WRQ offer this method.

—Joseph McKendrick

Quantifying Costs
In Joe McKendrick's April column, he mentions a study conducted by DePaul University [quantifying how much companies save by employing tools that transform current back-end applications to GUI front-ends]. I was wondering where I could get a copy of this. Good article.

—Jim Patton
Metaserver Inc.
New Haven, Conn.

For a copy of the study, try dropping a line to Dr. Howard Kanter of DePaul University, at hkanter@depaul.edu.

The name of the study is "An Empirical Analysis of Alternative Software Strategies for Migrating Mission Critical Legacy Applications to the World Wide Web."

—Joseph McKendrick

Mainframe Skills Crisis?
My compliments on Chris McConnell's article in the April 18 issue of the Enterprise Strategies newsletter. My career has followed a path that supports the premise of his article [that a shortage of workers with mainframe skills is pending]. I was employed at Boeing Computer Services in Seattle. In the mid-1990s, the parent company implemented a just-in-time manufacturing strategy to reduce the time necessary to deliver airplanes.

Managers at all levels throughout Boeing predicted the eventual demise of mainframe skills in lieu of the grandiose "enterprisewide" client-server technologies that would soon be the industry standard. As a result of this prediction, many mainframe technicians left Boeing (as I did).

Commercial business and government leaders still regard the "mainframe" as a technology past its prime. How ironic is it that most major businesses (including the federal government) complain about the lack of mainframe technicians after years of predicting its demise. They will only get harder to find and retain unless trade schools, community colleges and universities take an active role in teaching the basics of datacenter operations and mainframe technical support.

—Neil O'Connor
Lockheed Martin Information Systems
Lanham, Md.