Long MPE future, longer list to learn about
June 28, 2012
Up on a favorite technical mailing list of mine, one HP 3000 manager laid out his future for MPE and the 3000. While it may well be a long one, he's now looking to learn IBM mainframe technology. Yes, studying up for work on a system whose legacy is even longer than MPE's.
Yes, I know that COBOL is dead and there's no future in mainframes. Somehow, I think they're both going to be around as long as I am. Remember, I work for state government. We have at least one agencywhere their idea of application modernization is converting from Assembler to COBOL.
Our veteran manager wants to make a shift that looks like this:
The common element in there is COBOL, a language almost always essential to supporting 3000 applications. In spite of its repeated death announcements, COBOL's in use on every platform being run by enterprises today. Not everywhere, by a long shot. But since COBOL training won't be a big part of our manager's tech learning list, he could move on to newer tech. Maybe you're interested in Java, for example. One of HP's arch rivals is streaming free training for a language that's being classified as legacy. It should be so lucky.
Virtual Developer Day: Java SE 7 and JavaFX 2.0 is being billed as "everything you wanted to know about Java including Java SE 7, Java FX 2.0 and the roadmap to Java SE 8. Discover how Java can help you reduce your project risk and build more advanced, more portable desktop clients." Oracle's set up a webpage that leads you to videos and PDFs of slide sets.
One other 3000 expert, who arrived at MPE after a career in IBM mainframes, said there's lots of crossover between the two platforms. Job control, for example, reads about the same. "JOB cards, EXEC for RUN, FILE = DD in IBM land, etc. -- you could probably take an IBM JCL listing and understand it with little problem."
"As to COBOL, quite similar as well. The CICS [terminal display module] is sort of like VPlus, in that it uses subroutines and program-managed content and buffers. The non-display feature allows you to hide variables on the screen and pass them along which can be handy."
3000 managers may not understand how fortunate they are to have their strong fundamental experience with a classic enterprise environment. Another migration veteran reported the long-lived MVS is just a more wooly version of MPE.
"I suspect that having worked on an HP 3000 is one of the best preparations for working on the IBM OS," he said. "Because my impression of MPE is that it was MVS without the fluff."