COBOL vendors unveil Webcast access
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Acucorp, Micro Focus sketch future together

After a springtime purchase of Acucorp by Micro Focus, the two leading COBOL suppliers for HP 3000 migrators joined hands on the Internet today. A one-hour Webcast over a Microsoft Live Meeting channel ran long on strategy and shorter on tactics about the product integration between the two companies. Gary Crook, VP of Software Development at Micro Focus, took on the task of explaining a product line merger that's only two weeks along.

"As everyone knows, the most important goal of any project is to give it a name," Crook said in an introductory quip. He went on to more serious details by reporting the integration of the Micro Focus and Acucorp product lines is called "Project Meld. A Vulcan mind-meld of the software would be great — if only it were that easy, we'd have something for you to use today. We'll have some challenging work ahead of us."

Crook said that the goal of the merger is to incorporate the major features of each product in a joined release. Acucorp's Drake Coker added that the intergration's success will be "based upon the ease each with which you all can upgrade."

Version 8 of the AcuCOBOL-GT suite will roll out as planned, with an expected release date of September. The two companies' first release of integrated technology will require the better part of two years, with a target date of May, 2009.

Colker and Crook answered the prominent question more than once: "Will my AcuCOBOL/Micro Focus code run on the new product suite without changes?" Even though the finished software is close to two years away, the answer was yes. Or more precisely, "That's our intention."

About the only setback to customers on both sides is the delay of the AcuWebServices, a product module so new that it's not mentioned on the Acucorp site. The services are included in the Micro Focus suite, Coker said, so Acucorp is dropping the product that was ready for beta testing.

An HP 3000 customer called into the Webcast to ask if they should proceed with AcuCOBOL GT in their migration, given the flux in the future. Crook and Coker assured the customer that AcuCOBOL was still a good choice. Any why not? At one point, Drake allowed that the product integration for Meld was so far from a finish date that a genuine deadline couldn't be assured.

"The truth is that we don't really know when these [integrations] are going to happen," Coker said. "But one of the best ways to get there is the ensure the users stay involved."