Monday, October 13, 2014

Success Means Being Willing to See Reality

by Brenda J. Christie

I've written a few posts about Leadership, having happy productive, engaged employees, engaging stakeholders and tools to ensure successful projects.  Obviously, these are subjects near and dear to my heart.  And I am always looking for ways to improve.

So I was delighted to come across another great article, "Leading Change:  Why Transformation Efforts Fail," which I will now add to my career toolbox, and which I will also share with you. Written by John P. Kotter and appearing in the Harvard Business Review, Dr.Kotter outlines eight critical phases which need to be followed in order to make organizational change.  He discusses the people who need to be involved and the effect at each of the eight stages of not adequately following a step on the overall attainment of a goal, whether that be to improve revenue flow, improve stock price, change a corporate culture.  The overarching goal, however, is to stay in business and be able to take advantage of change and challenging market conditions.

Below is a screen shot of the eight success factors which Dr. Kotter discusses in the Harvard Business Review article.

COBOL Development Environments

by Brenda J. Christie

3270 Terminal Emulator

In an earlier post, I wrote about IDEs for web development.  Today's discussion extends to COBOL. The environment in which COBOL programs are developed today has changed a lot from the monochromatic days of Wylbur, Roscoe and TSO.  No longer are programmers necessarily writing their programs on paper and then typing them into a 3270 terminal emulator using Wylbur, Roscoe and TSO.  All three tools, or editors, are still in use, but the menu of what is available has improved and advanced.

Today there are Interactive Development Environments, or IDEs available to mainframe programmers similar to the tools available to web and mobile developers.  IDEs are similar to the familiar GUI interfaces complete with scroll bars, buttons, check boxes and the like.  And, they tend to be colorful.  They are often also more powerful, often allowing in-line syntax checks, COBOL syntax auto completion similar to that found on a smartphone email agent.  And for those more comfortable on a 3270 terminal emulator, there are COBOL IDEs which provide a 3270 emulator-like environment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mainframe Goes Mobile

by Brenda J. Christie with Eloy O. Cruz-Bizet

I recently came across a blog piece on Stack Exchange that was trying to explain (from a non-IBM Mainframe point of view of course) why young programmers aren't attracted to mainframe technologies.  The usual reasons came up: 

  1. Mainframes aren't sexy
  2. I'll never conquer the world working on a mainframe
  3. No simulator like something you could load onto a virtual machine
  4. If you start working on a mainframe that is all you ever will do

Some of these assertions are, of course, made out of ignorance. For example, an Open Source mainframe-like emulator named Hercules, runs under Windows, Linux, Solaris, just to name a few operating platforms.  And it simulates System 370, ESA/390 and the 64-bit zArchitecture.  The Hercules simulator, for example, allows a PC to create code similar to that you would code on an actual mainframe.  PC's are affordable development platforms to consumers and by extension to software developers.  A mainframe on the other hand, whose cost starts just short of millions of dollars is usually only purchased by large organizations.  As a new feature on "IT through the Prism of Time,” I have provided a navigation link, above, to a list of organizations using mainframe computers.  If you would like to see who they are, please click here or click the navigation link above.  For a clear idea of the how a Virtual Machine works, and why it would be used, as well as its history, click here. Other than who owns a mainframe, the prospect of working in a mainframe-like environment using a PC excites me.