Evolution or elimination: investing in modernization to safeguard NonStop’s future
By: Phil Ly
The pandemic, which we are currently experiencing globally, has created chaos in the business world. Corporations scramble to deal with an uncertain economic future. Many projects or initiatives have been deferred till later this year, and in some cases, next year, or even indefinitely. The immediate strategy is to leverage current assets and extend and maximize their values. The NonStop has always proven to be the most reliable and cost-effective platform, supporting thousands of mission critical applications worldwide every day. In these uncertain times, investment in the trustworthy NonStop platform through modernization will return more benefits than migrating to other platforms.
Modernizing NonStop ensures that applications can be improved incrementally with newer technology. It also means reaping the benefits of the improvement while minimizing risks. Just as importantly, modernization ensures a continuous supply of software products, tools, and personnel available to support your mission-critical Nonstop applications way into the future.
Here are some areas for you to consider in modernizing your NonStop:
- User Interface
- Development Environment
- Enterprise Integration
- Interoperate with Cloud Computing
Most people judge a book by its cover. Similarly, many judge a system or application with its user interface. Many NonStop applications are still terminal (“green screen”) based, and therefore quite often dismissed by some people as “legacy or older technology”, without understanding the underlying values of the platform and technology. Few realize that the User Interface (UI) of these NonStop applications can be enhanced easily with software products, tools and browser technologies. A prototype to convert these green screens to a GUI can be done quickly and easily.
“That place is so crowded that nobody goes there anymore.” – Yogi Berra
“COBOL is such an old technology. Nobody uses it anymore.” – Internet
Reality check: “More than 220 billion lines of COBOL code are still in production, in banks, corporations, and government agencies in 2020.” – Reuters
Many “Non-Tandem folks” have a misconception that COBOL is the only language available on the NonStop; when in fact, NonStop also supports C, C++, Java, Python, Perl and other modern languages. It is a good idea to start adopting some of these languages to enable newer and younger developers to work with NonStop. Another practical approach to modernizing the development environment is to adopt openly available tools, such as Eclipse, as well as automation tools in testing, continuous integration, and delivery.
Invariably, every NonStop user employs other systems within the company to perform additional business functions. The ability to integrate NonStop with these, complementary business platforms – Windows, Linux, Java, mainframes, etc. – is a crucial step to avoid NonStop being pigeonholed as the “legacy system in the corner.” Adoption of REST Web Services opens up doors to enable easy integration between NonStop and these various platforms.
Interoperate with Cloud Computing
Cloud computing services are here, and is growing at an exponential rate. It offers opportunities for companies to leverage software and hardware resources in the cloud at a cost-effective rate and achieve a shorter speed-to-market window. Services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Salesforce and others are ubiquitous in the enterprise roadmap. Having NonStop applications interoperate with cloud services is a necessary path to future-proof the platform.
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Phil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.