Heirloom® recognized as Rising Star for Mainframe Modernization Software.
Information Services Group (ISG), a well-known technology research and advisory firm renowned for its industry and technology expertise, has named Heirloom Computing a Leader in its Mainframe Services & Solutions U.S. 2021 Quadrant Report.
Companies that receive the Rising Star award have a promising portfolio or the market experience to become a leader, including the required roadmap and adequate focus on key market trends and customer requirements. Rising Stars also have excellent management and understanding of the local market. This award is only given to vendors or service providers that have made significant progress toward their goals in the last 12 months and are expected to reach the Leader quadrant within the next 12 to 24 months due to their above-average impact and strength for innovation.
Enterprises with IBM mainframes are increasingly making the decision to exit the data-center business and modernize their infrastructure to the cloud in order to increase agility and dramatically cut costs. Heirloom replatforms mainframe workloads using compiler-based refactoring to produce cloud-native Java applications that run on any cloud.
“Heirloom toolset delivers fast and effective refactoring for large-scale mainframe modernizations and migrations to the cloud.”
“Heirloom refactors mainframe applications to cloud-native Java programs that can scale horizontally on AWS and other clouds. The company offers a modern refactoring toolset that attracts system integrators and cloud providers’ attention because of its code refactoring speed and scalability.”
Partnership enables modernization of legacy applications to cloud-native targets with new data sources and injection of AI and machine learning, without rewriting them
San Francisco, Calif. – February 5, 2020 – Splice Machine, a provider of a scalable SQL database that enables companies to modernize their legacy and custom applications to be agile, data-rich, and intelligent, today announced a new partnership with Heirloom Computing to enable enterprises to modernize legacy, mission-critical, mainframe applications with Splice Machine’s intelligent SQL database. Businesses will benefit by at least an order of magnitude, from reengineering applications by hand, to refactoring at compiler-speed to an agile Java ecosystem on a modern data platform. In addition, enterprises will gain access to powerful new functionality by running their applications on the Splice Machine platform, such as leveraging real-time and historical data in analytics and injecting AI and machine learning into their applications.
For decades, mission-critical mainframe applications have anchored the banking, insurance, healthcare, and retail industries, as well as the public sector, all of which require heavy-duty, low latency transaction processing, where downtime would be extremely costly and unacceptable. But mainframe applications are being left behind as businesses strive to transform using distributed computing and public clouds. In large part, this is due to the perception that it’s overwhelming, even impossible, to modernize a mainframe application.
“The perception that mainframes can’t be modernized is outdated and misguided,” said Monte Zweben, co-founder and CEO of Splice Machine. “With Heirloom Computing’s cloud-native refactoring solution combined with migration to our scale-out SQL database, the barriers to mainframe modernization are broken down, resulting in reduced costs, increased business agility and entirely new business outcomes through the infusion of AI and machine learning.”
Heirloom® automatically refactors mainframe applications so they execute on any cloud, while preserving critical business logic, user-interfaces, data integrity, and systems security. Replatforming is a fast and accurate compiler-based approach that delivers strategic value through creation of modern agile applications that utilize an open industry-standard deployment model that is cloud-native.
“After decades of working with customers to first build – and now refactor – mainframe applications, we have now reached a tipping point where the benefits of refactoring are essentially business-centric and not solely technical,” said Gary Crook, president and CEO of Heirloom Computing. “The partnership with Splice Machine gives those enterprises that have been on the fence about moving off the mainframe yet another compelling reason to act. Splice Machine’s unique combination of scale-out, SQL and in-database machine learning will help breathe new life and intelligence into their prized mainframe applications.”
Heirloom, in combination with Splice Machine, offers enterprises the fastest way to modernize mainframe applications, enabling them to scale out on commodity hardware and leverage more modern, analytical techniques using an intelligent, SQL platform with in-database AI and machine learning.
COBOL defined business software development for decades. Now, is it over the hill or just hitting its prime?
by Curtis Franklin Jr.
Elastic COBOL is part of Heirloom Platform-as-a-Service (Paas), an application development toolset that is a plug-in to the Eclipse IDE framework. Elastic COBOL allows mainframe applications (including CICS and JCL) to execute as Java applications. You can continue to develop applications in COBOL or in Java, or both, enabling the transformation to Java to occur at a pace that is optimal for your business.
You can download Elastic COBOL for free. It is available on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Raspberry Pi and the cloud. That’s right — Raspberry Pi. So you can get out there and build an enterprise accounting system on a platform that lives in an Altoids tin.
As with so many of these compilers, Java (rather than machine code) is the target. People will argue about whether that’s a good thing or not, but the fact is that it makes the compiler much simpler to write and maintain. So get out your soldering iron, dust off your COBOL, and get your Altoid tin running.
Heirloom uses patented compiler technology to automatically transform mainframe applications into highly maintainable Java source-code, with 100% accuracy, while guaranteeing the preservation of existing business logic.
Banks are reluctant to break their reliance upon mainframe systems, in part due to a reliance on COBOL. Now some vendors offer tools that may help.
Though it’s generally more cost-effective to consolidate services on modern servers, many new variables can raise costs quickly. It’s a problem I covered for our sister publication, Information Week, a decade ago, and the circumstances have changed very little since.
COBOL has been the environment for financial business logic for decades. As demand for COBOL skills increases, the talent pool has nearly drained away. So banks are faced with two choices, neither of which is easy.
First, you can train existing Java and .NET developers to incorporate a COBOL-like runtime that further extends their mainframes’ service life while extending their logic to RESTful, mobile-friendly, HTML5-compliant Web services running on PC-style servers or modern virtual machines. With this option, banks may decide to amortize their mainframes on their own schedules.
Second, you can invest in software and services that effectively relocate their business logic in its entirety to a cloud-based system that pretends it’s an IBM 3270 or something like it. This is for banks that are ready to cut the cord as soon as possible, given the increasing maintenance costs of their older hardware.
Option 1 is championed by Micro Focus. It produces a series of development tools called Visual COBOL that can extend Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 or VS 2010 (the environment for .NET developers) or Eclipse 3.7 Indigo (the IDE of choice for Java developers).
“Much of the COBOL that is out there today is procedural COBOL, the traditional way in which programs were defined and created. For many reasons, they continue to run in that same space,” Ed Airey, Micro Focus’s product marketing director, told me. Visual COBOL integrates into existing development environments (IDEs) with the objective of giving developers a path for modernizing the old code, to run in new environments, but at a pace that the organization can set for itself.
Option 2, by comparison, is straight out of science fiction. A two-year-old Fremont, Calif., startup called Heirloom Computing – comprising some former Micro Focus talent — has built a platform-as-a-service called Elastic COBOL. It’s designed to run COBOL in its pure state, including the 1970s variety. Once a bank’s business logic is transitioned to Elastic COBOL, it thinks it’s running in its native environment.
“Our first tenet of Elastic COBOL is 100 percent compatibility,” Mark Haynie, Heirloom’s chief technology officer, tells me:
So if you move an application from a mainframe to a private cloud… in your datacenter where you have card key access, and you make no changes in that application, the default view when you connect to that OLTP app will be a green-on-black, 24×80 screen. It’ll be inside of a Web browser, but the browser will be protected through RSA’s PKI technology, so it can be restricted to a particular set of IP addresses.What’s the point? Haynie says banks need a new starting point, before they can even begin to consider modernizing their apps. The path from modernizing a “rehosted” COBOL application to a RESTful Web service upon which developers can build an HTML5 front end is shorter than trying to modernize COBOL where it resides today.
Either way, any effort to modernize banking systems so that mobile and Web services can be built around them, will require developers who understand COBOL’s unique and certainly quaint eccentricities.
“Installing keys and license daemons on end user hardware is invasive and troublesome, and moving that process to the cloud provides an extremely elegant alternative with significant upsides for application providers and their clients.”
“Companies often struggle with the question of how best to keep using their legacy mainframe COBOL applications (and the business knowledge built into them), but still keep their business agile and their costs low. Legacy modernization platform provider Heirloom Computing thinks the answer is to move the applications to the cloud on a pay-as-you-go basis.”
The company said its Elastic COBOL PaaS allows companies to securely run the exact same code, only paying for the time they need in the cloud. “Legacy modernization does orient around COBOL applications, typically running on mainframes,” said Heirloom CEO Gary Crook. “But [they also run on] open systems platforms as well. It’s really the idea that you can take those high-value, trusted applications that have been running businesses—both transactionally and operationally—for decades now, and repurpose those in new ways to create unique value to the business.”
Crook created Heirloom with a team of executives from legacy modernization platform provider Micro Focus. They launched Heirloom years ago because they thought that Micro Focus needed to extend its reach into the cloud. But they claim that Micro Focus didn’t want to go there at that time.
“Before Heirloom Computing, I was the Micro Focus executive responsible for product development worldwide,” Crook said. “Around mid-2009, I had moved back to California to work on establishing a new cloud division for Micro Focus. And as things do sometimes, it didn’t go as planned.
“At that time, the executive team at Micro Focus made a decision, which was to put their whole strategic focus on growing a software testing business, which came about through two recent acquisitions they had made. One was the Compuware testing product line and the other one was Borland. Those acquisitions were made kind of early 2009.”
Crook said the Micro Focus folks decided that the strategic focus of the company going forward was going to be in the software testing business. “Consequently, myself and the other founders of Heirloom saw an opportunity then to innovate in the legacy modernization space,” he said. “Not just around the COBOL stack, but more broadly also. And that’s the reason we started Heirloom. This was no kind of negative on Micro Focus at all; I had a great time working there, as did we all. It’s a great company. But we just felt that we saw an opportunity here that they weren’t going to be addressing.”
Micro Focus’ perspective
Kevin Brearley, senior director of product management at Micro Focus, explained the company’s business goals much differently. According to him, Micro Focus bought Borland’s testing technology just to supplement its own legacy modernization efforts because of customer demand.
“[Micro Focus’] foray into the testing market is purely to support our modernization strategy,” he said. “We’re not focused on testing. Because of the modernization piece, we understand the COBOL really well. We’ve got the development tools to do it and the ability to move everything. So, to enhance that, [we] bought Borland and their testing technology just to augment that process.”
According to Brearley, Micro Focus is still very much based on legacy application modernization. “[This means] changing them, enhancing them, making them mobile, putting them on different platforms, without changing the applications much,” he said. “We want to keep [them] very close to the original because then we take out the risk and we do it a lot quicker. Our customers are more comfortable with that than doing a rewrite or a replacement kind of strategy.”
Heirloom is, likewise, focused on legacy applications, typically COBOL, CICS and JCL applications, according to Crook. “What we do is we take those key components and we put them through [our Elastic COBOL], which is a traditional application-development and deployment product for COBOL that runs in Eclipse. And we compile them so they execute 100% as Java applications,” he said.
Crook said the reason targeting Java is so important is because the one thing that unifies all the cloud platforms in the market today is their Java execution layer. “What this means is, we can take a mainframe COBOL, CICS, JCL application and run it, to date, on 11 different cloud platforms,” he said. “And that’s simply because we target the Java platform first. Then the cloud platform runs that as a Java application.”
While Heirloom modernizes COBOL legacy applications by changing the COBOL code into Java, Micro Focus said that this is not needed. “A lot of people will look at it [and say it’s] got to be in Java or something sexy like that,” said Brearley. “That it’s got to be new, contemporary and so on. But that’s not true.
“Micro Focus has tens of thousands of customers out there, for many years, and they’ve written applications using COBOL. What Micro Focus does is provide them the environment [where] they can take those COBOL applications forward without having to change them. What I mean by that is, we can run COBOL applications on Windows, on Linux, on Unix, etc. We can run COBOL applications in the cloud today [as well].”
Going forward, both companies agree that there will always be a need to modernize those COBOL application infrastructures and make them more agile. “When you boil it down…it really is about making the business more agile,” Crook said. “And you can’t do that in today’s competitive environment by simply maintaining your existing infrastructure, existing data centers and the old way of doing business. You have to find ways to liberate those high-value, trusted systems in new and different ways because the market’s changing.”
Crook believed that cloud computing is the future for this. “I think most of the industry agrees as well, [that success in keeping your business agile] is going to be around how you embrace the benefits of cloud computing,” he said.
“With the Heirloom cloud-based job scheduler, cloud instances are started and stopped by the scheduler during a batch window. The scheduler and the job entry subsystem divide jobs into classes of resources – CPU, database, network – manages concurrency among a large pool of resources, and collects job report output for later viewing, printing or distribution from a central cloud-based Web portal. ”
“Heirloom is touting this as a big step forward in the modernization of legacy applications. And that, of course, is what the company’s modus operandi is all about. Heirloom’s ELPaaS was designed to help enterprises and their trusted providers in shifting older software applications that are required for running the business to the cloud computing model.”
“Heirloom Computing Inc. has formed a new partnership with Java Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider CloudBees to speed the transition of mainframe workloads to the CloudBees PaaS. With the partnership, Heirloom will deploy COBOL-based mainframe workloads to the cloud, using Heirloom Elastic COBOL and the CloudBees Platform.”
Heirloom’s Elastic COBOL enables enterprises to leverage COBOL and CICS workloads on the Java platform and in the cloud. Elastic COBOL recompiles commercial, on-line and batch workloads into Java source-code so they execute 100% as Java applications. Elastic COBOL uses the Eclipse IDE framework to deliver support for COBOL syntax (including IBM and Micro Focus), CICS, JES/JCL, VSAM, SQL, HTML, XML & Java and is available on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and the cloud.
In a separate announcement, Heirloom also announced GOPaaS, a service to quickly and easily SaaS-enable and modernize mission-critical enterprise software, allowing businesses running legacy software to reap the benefits of cloud computing immediately.
“To compete in today’s environment, you need a web interface that’s easy for users to navigate,” says Heirloom Computing CEO Gary Crook. “We created GOPaaS so businesses can compete in the cloud right now, skipping the time-intensive process of rewriting code or developing a new cloud-based application from scratch.”
Using the GOPaaS service, businesses can legacy applications in the cloud. Heirloom’s PaaS (Enterprise Legacy Platform-as-a-Service) software application development and deployment platform seamlessly migrates legacy systems to private and public cloud computing infrastructures. The GOPaaS service allows any application stack to use ELPaaS. Read full article…
“With so much riding on cloud-enabled applications (to say nothing of the need for application ubiquity), GOPaaS may offer the perfect compromise solution providers and system integrators need when looking to make the best of an organization’s application migration situation.”