Some people may believe in: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, this saying undermines the importance of investing in strategic options with foresight to avoid pending disasters.
A couple of cases in point:
I started my first job in the 1970’s with an intelligent terminal company called Sycor , which was eventually acquired by Northern Telecomm. In those days, Sycor terminals were used for Source Data Entry (key to disk), and its programming language was called – ironically – TAL for Terminal Application Language. It was an Assembler/Macro like language, which required one to work with registers, memory addresses and screen fields. When Sycor introduced the Sycor 440 machine in 1976, it had a whopping 64K of memory, a 10 MB hard disk, and a COBOL compiler. Surprisingly, I was one of the very few field personnel that knew COBOL at the time. When I asked some of the more senior Sycor analysts about COBOL, their response was: “Why would we need COBOL? Assembler language is faster and uses less memory!” Well, we all know that the world has moved past Sycor TAL and assembler programming languages.
Fast forward to 2001: I was giving a web Enabling workshop to a NonStop customer in Chicago, when one of the senior COBOL programmers raised his hand and asked: “ COBOL works perfectly well for us. Why would we want do any of this web stuff?” That company was later acquired and sadly, they no longer use NonStop. None of the NonStop developers were asked to stay to work in the new IT environment, which was Unix, Java and totally web-based.
Today, the NonStop has a lot of modern technologies available, including support for SQL, web server, Java, Eclipse, SOAP and others. Yet, a lot of users still haven’t taken advantage of some or all of these new technologies. In many cases, they are still developing COBOL applications that use 6530 terminals, Enscribe files and interface with other platforms using FTP. Seriously, it is in your best interest to start considering options to modernize your NonStop environment.
“Why should I be interested in modernizing?”
- Prevent self-obsolescence
Working with new technologies will expand your current and future employment opportunities.
- It could make your job easier
There are a lot of facilities, tools and utilities available in Java, Apache, SOAP, and other new technologies that are “off-the-shelf” which you can leverage without any coding
- Build a stronger and more dynamic team
If you are a manager, adapting new technology will create positive challenges for your current team, and make it easier to hire new staff.
“What should I do?”
- Make time
I know that all of us are very busy at work, barely keeping our head above water. I encourage you to check out this blog “Create Time to Change Your Life.”
- Pick one topic to start
Any topic: Java, Web Service, Apache, etc. Instead of trying to learn everything about all the modern tools, pick just one thing to start learning. Start slowly but work on it consistently. If you are looking for a recommendation, I would suggest Java. Why? Because it is easy to set up and learn on your desktop, and you can test your programs on the NonStop very easily. In my next blog, I will cover more on Java and NonStop, and the benefits that it offers.
- Look for free tutorials
There are many excellent tutorial blogs and YouTube videos available. Here are some examples:
Also, visit our blog for an upcoming series of Modernization Tutorial blogs and videos.
Don’t Wait. Start today.
In the history of IT, complacency and shortsightedness usually lead to obsolescence in applications, platforms and people. It may not be “broke” right now, but you can’t afford to wait for it to be broken before you try to fix it. By then, it will be too late.
Need professional service help? Contact TIC Software
If you need help to get started, you can benefit from our Workshops or Quick Start Service. TIC Software is ready to help you modernize your NonStop applications and develop new software solutions. Check out our Modernization Service suite on our web site.
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Phil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.