Making It Easier To Work In Legacy/Desktop World

Net Express 4 lets developers more easily link Cobol business logic to Web-services apps

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

March 4, 2003

2 Min Read

Micro Focus International Ltd. is upgrading its Net Express Cobol development environment to assist mainframe shops in getting more use out of their legacy systems.

In addition, it introduced Enterprise Server as a new product that can deploy a Cobol transaction environment on Windows and Unix servers, extending the platforms on which the large library of Cobol transaction logic may be used. Net Express 4 brings enhancements that make it possible to more easily link Cobol business logic to Web-services applications created in Java or Microsoft's C# language. In the past, such connections were possible primarily through laborious programmer-constructed links from the Java or C# application backward into the legacy system.

For example, the Microsoft toolkit for Simple Object Access Protocol includes building blocks for gaining access to Cobol applications, says Ian Archbell, VP of Net Express product management. Now, Net Express supplies automated Cobol connectivity to Java 2 Enterprise Edition applications, such as a Web-services application, Archbell says.

The Cobol business logic can be linked to a new application or the business logic may be incorporated into the new application and tied to Java or. Net languages, including Visual C++ as well as C#, he says.

The development environment is supplemented by the new add-on, Enterprise Server, a software server for running Cobol-based transactions on a server other than an IBM mainframe. In effect, it brings Cobol transactions to Windows and Unix servers, Archbell says.

"Enterprise Server is a good extension [of the development environment]. It helps bring Cobol assets off the mainframe onto the Web. It helps my clients transfer CICS [IBM's mainframe Customer Information and Control System for interactions between mainframe and client] to the Web or build Web services," says Hal Peters, president of Pinebrook Consulting.

Peters has been using Net Express 4 and Enterprise Server to build pilot projects with clients illustrating how they can make more extensive use of their Cobol systems, he says.

"We have moved one Cobol transaction system off a mainframe and put it on another server, and we want to move to another," he notes. Java servers aren't as good as Cobol in supporting transactions. Cobol supplies built-in capabilities to recover data intact from failed transactions, while Java programmers have "to roll their own" when building transaction systems, Peters says.

Net Express is priced at $3,700 per development seat. Enterprise Server is priced according to the number of CPUs in the server on which it runs. Micro Focus declined to offer an example. Founded in 1976, Micro Focus is privately held, Archbell says, and has revenue exceeding $100 million a year in Cobol products.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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