January 22, 2013
Older 3000 Birds, Earning New Wings
Since the 3000 community is full of veteran (older) IT pros, its members face a classic challenge. These old birds must earn new wings in some way, just to stay in flight. Most of us are consigned to a life of working without end -- because we love what we do, or because we must for other, practical reasons.
That means learning new technology and new approaches to information designs. Architecture meant something different while we moved through elementary school, but by college days your community saw it as design of systems. Today there are development tools that include architecture modules. They're not in use in 3000 environments, but they're waiting on the other side of a migration.
New wings come to mind as I read news about one of the older birds in our community, Paul Edwards. He announced that he's mastered a fresh skill at his 70-plus years (more than 40 of them in IT). It's technical in nature, because it engages a complex system: aircraft.
I now have a Commercial Pilot certificate with the following ratings:
Airplane Single Engine Land
Airplane Multiengine Land
And I have had a solo in a Cessna 172R. Now I have to decide what to do with the certificate, and where do I go from here. Any suggestions are welcome.
Edwards also has skills in Suprtool and Speedware, to show a broader range of the tried and true.
Do you have a new certificate that helps you spread your wings in computing? Or even technology experience gained through modernizing systems, something newer than the HP 3000's Perl/iX? One notable 3000 shop that's building migrated 3000 software, QSS, has a deep bench of MPE veterans who've added new feathers to their IT wings over the years, making flights into a fresh environment.QSS has gathered among its developers Jeff Vance and Mark Bixby of HP's 3000 Labs -- as well as most recently Gavin Scott, a longtime vet of the development and support house Allegro Consultants. What all of these pros have in common is expertise in a newer generation of tools. Things like Ruby on Rails, or modern releases of Java. QSS has been using Ruby to get its K-12 customers onto Linux.
Lately, however, there have been warnings about Java -- which while still evolving, looks to be getting less secure. Oracle owns it since it purchased Sun, but the US Department of Homeland Security and some of the 3000 community point out that Java has become the new "foistware." That's software that is foisted upon every PC like Adobe's Flash once was -- and so a funnel for hacker attacks -- with "crucial" automatic updates. That's a billion plug-ins now at risk.
One 3000 vet said that friends don't let friends install Java on their browsers. So what was once a benign and useful new technology has become -- let's push that flight metaphor a little higher -- wings attached with wax like those Icarus wore. And so security plummets while Java is enabled.
However, new technology can be based upon old and secure concepts, like COBOL development environments. Something as basic as an Eclipse environment for COBOL development. Such new wings are waiting on the other side of migrations. Acucorp once developed the Extend environment, which was so 3000-aware that it knew MPE intrinsics, and was integrated with the ScreenJet toolset to transform VPlus screens into ACUCOBOL interfaces. Now the product is called Micro Focus Extend. While it began its life as ACUCOBOL-GT, it now has a COBOLVirtual Machine for app deployment. Micro Focus says this VM gives COBOL apps a reach across more than 600 platforms.
That's the kind of reach that Java was destined to achieve, the push that got it to those 1 billion plug-ins. Now COBOL is reaching into a golden legacy technology that has been spun into virtual deployments. Tools like this probably won't spur migrations -- but once a former 3000 site is on another platform, these wings are waiting to be pinned on, after certification and training.
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