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June 23, 2015

Migration platform gets Microsoft's retooling

Moving HP 3000 systems to Windows Server can include the use of the .NET framework, and Microsoft is retooling the framework to remain coupled with Visual Studio, rolling out a 2015 VS. The just-previewed development environment, a popular choice for migrating HP 3000 sites headed to Windows, means a new .NET release, as version 4.6 of the .NET Framework comes as part of the new Visual Studio 2015.

VS 2015 screenMicrosoft is making its chief enterprise environment more feature-rich, but the retooling comes at a price. They all do, these revisions. The newest Visual Studio is powered by the new Roslyn compiler, and there are new APIs. Existing .NET apps aren't going to know much about new API capabilities, and so like everything in IT, the .NET frameworks from 4.5.2 backward will begin to age. But ASP.NET gets an upgrade and the Entity Framework data model increases its support for Azure data services and for non-relational databases. Alas, no IMAGE/SQL support in there, but that's what middleware from providers like MB Foster will continue to provide.

Users like the San Bernadino County Schools have been moving apps to .NET from MPE/iX, a project that was first scheduled to be complete at the schools by 2015. Four years ago, when the school system first started talking about using .NET, 2015 might've been outside of Microsoft's plans to keep .NET a strategic IT choice. VS 2015 as well as the newest framework put that worry to rest.

For the HP 3000 customer, hearing a toolset is strategic would be familiar territory. In the 1980s and 1990s, HP dev environments that were dubbed strategic, such as Allbase 4GL and Transact, fell from grace at Hewlett-Packard. The same fate came to the 3000 and MPE as well. By the end of the '90s, HP statements that a product was "strategic" were processed like a kiss of death; a product would get that label a few years before dropping off the price list.

Windows 8 was the first product that segregated .NET into a special place, sometimes not a location you want an architecture to live. Win 8's tiled mode had a new development platform based on HTML and Javascript, exploiting the rich features of HTML5, and the fast Javascript engine and hardware acceleration in the latest Internet Explorer. Four years later, IE is falling by the wayside in favor of Project Spartan. The Spartan browser was announced this year, but its release date is uncertain. Spartan won't be able to render legacy websites, and so in another piece of migration via renovation, Windows users will have to use two browsers in Windows 10.

For more than four years, the COBOL code at the San Bernadino schools has been migrated into Microsoft's C#, and the dev environment has been Visual Studio. NET has been a Microsoft success, despite some bumps over the last 10 years.

As COBOL platforms go, Micro Focus has released Visual COBOL R3 to bring COBOL to a range deployment platforms including .NET, the Java Virtual Machine and the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform.

Dave Evans, who's going to migrate out of the district's IT shop before MPE does completely, said that initially the migration called for a "clean sheet" approach, rethinking and designing the apps from scratch. "As the amount of time left to get this done is decreasing," he said four years ago this week, "we're starting to switch to making a pretty screen for the user from the Windows world. Pretty much, the back end of this stuff we'll take as written on the HP 3000, and rewrite it over to .NET."

09:22 PM in Migration | Permalink

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