Latest Jumar Case Study: Completed within budget – CA Gen Upgrade from v6.5 to v8.0

We’ve uploaded our latest case study to our website.  

Jumar is delighted to have worked with State of New Mexico Human Services Department to upgrade their CA Gen environment from v6.5 to v8.0.  This passes through v7.6 which is generally accepted in the industry to be a major step.  Read more here.

For more information, please feel free to get in touch.

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Coming of age: Jumar’s legacy modernisation software evolves with new look and new functionality

It has been the mainstay of CA Gen modernisation and transformation projects for more than a decade.

We are taking about our very own Project Phoenix.  Known simply as ‘Phoenix’ in these hereabouts, it was a collection of automated software tooling, supported by world-class consultancy, which has been used to modernise legacy systems across the globe for some of the world’s biggest names.

Now, as the target technologies continue to move on, so does the need to develop increasingly complex tooling to help modernise, re-platform and/or migrate the legacy systems.  And that means Phoenix is getting a makeover.

MAPS-strap-opaqueBuilding on the sound Phoenix principles, but with modern CA Gen transformation challenges in-mind, Jumar has overhauled its automation tooling to the extent where it needs a new name and a new look and feel.  Enter – Jumar MAPS – the new name for the new generation of Project Phoenix.

However, it’s more than just a name change.  The functionality has been significantly upgraded, and you can read about new capabilities here.

We’ve also categorised the tooling into three distinct families: ANALYSE, TRANSFORM and ACCELERATE.Categories in a row

The ANALYSE family includes our widely known Model Analyser tool and consists of a suite of software tooling which allows users to carry out a detailed inspection, analysis and assessment of their CA Gen models.

Analysis typically focuses on a particular type of transformation or project, highlighting issues that will be faced in the context of the actual models in scope, and providing information for estimation and planning. The Analyse family also helps to highlight issues around performance, upgrade (issues between source and target versions) and model corruptions.

MAPS box multi disc smallerTRANSFORM is a family of tools which significantly accelerate the transition to new architecture and technologies.  Our green-screen-to-client-server tool, 3270 Transition (previously 3270AUTO) falls under this category heading, as does Jumar’s forward engineering XML Code Generation tool which supports a number of target platforms including Java and COBOL.

Last, but not least, is the ACCELERATE group of products. As the name suggests, they allow CA Gen users to carry out modernisation and day-to-day development activities much more quickly – but more importantly, more accurately.

An overview breakdown of all the tools is available here.

All the above are supported by Jumar’s team of CA Gen experts, spread across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia – backed up by our UK-based development centre.

Jumar MAPS (which actually stands for Modernisation Automated Product Set – and that is why we abbreviate it!) replaced Project Phoenix in July 2014, …and will continue to evolve as Jumar’s R&D department work tirelessly to ensure that it keeps pace with the ever more demanding legacy modernisation projects we encounter.

Find out more.  Contact us here – or discover www.jumar-solutions.com/maps

Partnership between Jumar and Capgemini reduces cost and risk of legacy IT transformation

It’s been a busy week here at Jumar, thanks to our latest partnership.  Read more about the launch of our alliance with Capgemini UK below…


 

PRESS RELEASE: (Birmingham, UK) Organisations setting out to modernise their legacy IT applications in a lower-cost, de-risked manner are to benefit from a new partnership between Capgemini UK plc and Jumar Solutions.

Jumar Solutions is a worldwide specialist in the software development tool CA Gen, which has been used since the 1980s to develop and maintain mission critical, head of duty applications in some of the world’s largest public and private organisations.

Jumar has today announced a UK-wide partnership with Capgemini to provide customers with a unique combination of expertise and tooling to support projects involving transforming, modernising or migrating a customer’s CA Gen system.

Projects may be driven by financial efficiencies, by a need to move towards more modern technology or by a lack of access to skilled CA Gen resources.

The partnership provides a joint conversion factory allowing organisations to accelerate (by up to six times) their CA Gen transformation, migration or modernisation projects by deploying Jumar’s proprietary automated software tooling.  This is enhanced by Capgemini’s considerable experience in supporting large scale transformation projects in mission critical environments in a robust, proven process.

The approach allows for a much more rapid return on investment from a CA Gen transformation project, from more than 10 years to less than two years.

Risk is significantly reduced by applying this robust, automated conversion facility, allowing projects to be delivered in a repeatable, reliable and accurate manner in partnership with Capgemini.  Its network of development centres has a proven track record of executing large-scale projects with no negative impact on both public and private sector organisations.

Wendy Merricks, Jumar’s Managing Director says: “CA Gen-using organisations have a massive appetite to modernise their portfolio and this partnership provides them with unparalleled access to the best knowledge, software and resources.

We find that many CA Gen modernisation projects benefit from the wider expertise of Systems Integrators of Capgemini’s calibre and scale.  Indeed, the productivity and efficiencies that this collaboration brings, significantly benefits from our error-free automated approach, combined with Capgemini’s capacity to deliver, brings projects within reach that would not have been previously considered viable”

For more information, please contact us.

 

Your future with CA Gen: Three steps to your ‘sleep at night’ strategy

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Jumar’s latest whitepaper. Click to download.

Your legacy technology may have served you well for decades, but you must – at some stage – accept the fact that you will need to do something to modernise that technology.

Avoiding this, opens you up to risk – and that risk is only going to increase as time goes on.

So, how can you reduce this risk, and begin to sleep a little more soundly at night – knowing that everything is sorted’?

It sounds like a mammoth task, but we propose a solution in our latest whitepaper. In it, we focus on our core area of expertise: CA Gen.

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Click image to download the whitepaper

The whitepaper categorises CA Gen users into three distinct types, and goes on to illustrate a common solutions which:

  • Reduces risk
  • Enhances future options
  • Puts organisations into a stronger position
  • Enables you to ‘sleep at night’

The strategy we propose may, on the face of it, sound complex and daunting – but it only needs to be done proportionately. On top of that, our legacy modernisation automation tools accelerate the process, reducing costs and eliminating error-prone manual methods.

Download the whitepaper here – and begin by categorising your organisation into one of our three classifications. Then, find out how our automated solution could put you in a much stronger position.

It you’d like to discuss any aspect of the whitepaper, please contact us – and we’ll happily clarify any points or help you explore further options.

Join us at the watercooler. The CA Gen community is here.

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The watercooler – the place to be

Picture the scene.  The watercooler in the corner of our CA Gen development centre bubbles away, as four or five of our team members take a break from their development work – coincidentally all at the same time.

The topic turns from Christmas shopping to last night’s “I’m a celebrity…” (for those outside the UK, this is a TV show, you’re probably glad you’ve never heard of).

A few more people join this ‘watercooler moment’ and – as you’d expect – the topic of discussion changes again.  One of the team members reveals they have had a ‘eureka moment’ with a CA Gen modernisation project.  The conversation then becomes frenzied and work-related, with all discussions about Christmas shopping forgotten.  This has become a classic ‘watercooler moment’ and shows just how valuable these informal work get-togethers can be.  Everyone gets back to their desk, encouraged by the fact that someone has achieved something above and beyond their normal remit, and given the customer much more than they’d expected.

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More than just water. The watercooler is the hub for office banter.

This happens everyday in companies across the world  – so why are we obsessing about it here?  Well, during our most recent ‘watercooler moment’, the conversation inevitably turned to the topic of the CA Gen community.  It’s a phrase used widely – and, as you’d expect from such a legacy system, very affectionately.  Which started us thinking; if we could get the entire CA Gen community around our watercooler, what would everyone talk about.  The need for more cups, obviously, but it became the subject of a heated debate.

With no consistent agreement on the big subjects, we decided to find out – in the only obvious way. We’d ask.

So, if CA Gen forms a part of your remit (no matter how small), we’d like to invite you to our virtual watercooler for a a brief chat.  (It’ll only take you a few minutes, and it involved nothing more than clicking a few buttons – certainly with no typing required!

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Get involved…

Join us at the watercooler here 

and take our quick three minute survey.

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We’ll publish the results (but not individual replies) in a forthcoming blog – so we’d really appreciate you taking the time to participate.

Thanks in advance for taking a brief break from the grind of daily life.  There’s nothing like a break at a watercooler for helping you to recharge!

If you’d like more information about our CA Gen modernisation services, please contact us.

CA Gen model corruptions: deal with them now before they halt your project

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Jeff Johns: Principal Consultant

This month, Jeff Johns tackles errors and corruptions in CA Gen models, and looks at how they can be identified and fixed.

The vast majority of users will know that CA Gen (also known as COOL:Gen) models can contain potentially harmful errors and inconsistencies. We usually refer to these as model corruptions and they are found in the majority of CA Gen encyclopaedias.

It’s not hard to find them (CA Gen includes an option to run an Encyclopaedia Validation Report) but what do you do once you’ve found them? Do you actually need to do anything? Also, not all types of corruption are detected by this report, so how can you be sure you’ve found them all?

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Model corruptions: deal with them before they become a problem.

Most organisations, when they find such errors, frankly tend to ignore them. And that might be fine for a while if the model isn’t actively being maintained. But that all changes when those errors start to rear their heads and cause problems during development (“missing mandatory association” anyone?), code generation, deployment or, worst of all, at runtime. Now, they can’t be ignored. In this blog, we look at how these corruptions – which can have potentially expensive and damaging consequences – can be dealt with once and for all.

To begin with, let’s explore how they originate.

At a very low level, CA Gen has an underlying schema which contains all the objects it needs to define an application – data types, logic statements, UI controls, flows, etc. All of these objects are interrelated, and the schema keeps track of these relationships.

Corruptions happen when, for whatever reason (usually through hardware or software failure), the rules that define the schema are broken. For example, there may be an association missing that the schema expects to be there. It can’t therefore link these objects to one another. There may be an Attribute that’s not associated with an Entity Type, or a Logic Statement that’s not associated with an Action Diagram. Or the corruption may be more complex – perhaps the Attribute is associated with TWO Entity Types when the schema requires that it is associated with one and only one.

The more a model is worked upon, or the more version upgrades it undergoes, the more scope there is for these errors and corruptions to creep in.

Prevention is – in this case – much easier and quicker than cure

In our experience, users tend not to run Encyclopaedia Validation Reports regularly, and most tend to only discover them when they have problems with their models. Most CA Gen users adopt the mentality of ‘it doesn’t seem broken – so why fix it?”. It’s simply not a priority in their day-to-day business.

The problem is that these errors, when they do present themselves, always do so at the most inconvenient time – when you are trying to create a new version of an application, whether as part of on-going maintenance or some modernisation or replatforming exercise. Corruptions can stop a project in its tracks, while everyone wonders what to do. This abrupt halt usually results in, at least, a small panic.

This tends to be the point where we are contacted – and there’s usually, not surprisingly, a sense of urgency.

So what can be done?

Whether being carried out before or after the situation becomes critical, the process is largely the same.

The first thing is to look at nature of the errors. To do this, we have developed our own Schema Tool, which allows us to look at the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the CA Gen model at a very low level. This allows us to see the vast number of objects, and examine all of their properties and associations, just as the Gen toolset does.  However, our tool provides us with the deepest level of information, presented in a meaningful and structured way, allowing us to capture the inter-relationships within a model and between models.

Schema tool

Jumar’s Schema tool is used to examine the contents of a Gen model at the lowest level, allowing the user to navigate around the model’s objects and display their properties and associations.

We can therefore see where things are missing, and where there are invalid properties or associations where they shouldn’t be.

It is very common to discover that there are associations missing – and we are left with orphaned objects. Usually these can simply be deleted using the Schema tool. Alternatively, if we decide that an orphaned object should be retained and we can find out which other objects it should be related to, we can reinstate those relationships.

If there is a large number of corruptions in a model we will usually want to apply automation to apply fixes in bulk and we have created a dedicated tool for this purpose. Additionally, it’s not unusual for us to write one-off pieces of automation to fix unusual or non-standard problems. To do this, we have to find a pattern within a group of the errors, and let the automation carry out a consistent process of correcting them.

It’s also worth asking yourself at this point, ‘am I sure that I have detected all the errors?’ As previously mentioned, the validation report doesn’t necessarily detect all types of corruption. It’s quite possible to have invalid scenarios in models which do not actually break the rules of the schema. Because of this, we have created additional reporting tools to check for some of these other types of corruption.

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Identifying, and then removing the corruptions makes for a smoother project.

Looking at the bigger picture, when we carry out any type of modernization or upgrade activity, we always strongly advise that an error correction process is carried out at the start. It makes sense to fix these at the outset to prevent potential project hold-ups, and because if we’re using automation to modernise a system, we don’t want that automation to be operating on invalid source information. So we run the validation reports, fix the errors that in our experience actually have an impact (there are some harmless ones that we may leave alone), and then run the validation reports again to satisfy ourselves and the client that the errors that we fixed have really gone.

We’re very proud of this capability because there are very few people who can do this. Even the most sophisticated CA Gen users tend not to work at this low level. They’re used to using the toolset and the functionality it offers – whereas we’re 100% familiar with the API and schema where problems like this can be identified and remediated.

Why not try running an Encyclopaedia Validation report on one of your key models and see what you get. You might be surprised. If you’d like to talk to us about the results – or any other aspect of your CA Gen portfolio – please contact us.

Why has CA Gen stood the test of time?

By Andy Scott, Client Director, Jumar Solutions

The minute a technology gets labelled ‘legacy’ (rightly or wrongly), it can begin to inherit a stigma that it is old, outdated, unattractive to young IT specialists and less relevant than its more modern-day counterparts. We’ve been working with CA Gen (also known as COOL:Gen, AllFusion Gen, Advantage:Gen and IEF Composer) since the late 1980s – a time when in the UK, a pint of beer cost less than one pound , and in the USA, a gallon of petrol cost slightly less than a dollar . For most of the intervening period, the ‘legacy’ label has been firmly attached, but in our experience, the stigma of being out of touch with reality could not be further from the truth.

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Not all legacy technology from the 80s has survived.

In this blog, we look at one particular aspect of CA Gen which should be enough to convince even the most hardened of sceptics that this so-called legacy technology still provides considerable flexibility – and with that, comes significant cost savings.

Consider the traditional legacy situation of CA Gen applications running on a mainframe – with the high licensing and operational costs associated with that mainframe environment. Most CA Gen organisations that are using the mainframe will have probably considered the option of moving to a less expensive hardware architecture, whilst retaining CA Gen and the significant investment already made into the CA Gen applications that are supporting the business.

Exploiting the opportunities that modern mid-range platforms offer, with comparatively (much) lower associated cost seems to be an obvious attractive prospect, however for many mainframe using organisations migrating from the mainframe is, of course, technically challenging. The flip-side is the potential cost saving, with some hardware manufacturers estimating cost reductions in exceptional cases reaching as high as 70-80% over that of its mainframe counterpart – with similar, or even better, performance.

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CA Gen: A thriving legacy technology in a a modern world.

The challenge of replatforming is, however, considerably less difficult if CA Gen has been used to design, develop and generate the applications. With everything already defined within the model-based development environment, the code can be easily be generated into other target platforms just by switching the generation options. Of course, there are difficulties when it comes to objects outside CA Gen such as External Action Blocks (EABs) – but these can be overcome relatively easily and are definitely not a showstopper. We quash any fears over that later in the blog.

Had the code been manually created and generated, then the task of re-platforming it could be huge and highly labour-intensive (unless it is to be ported to another platform using the same development language (potentially with support from 3rd party solutions such as those provided by Micro Focus)). But, with CA Gen, you can deliver the same application functionality – on an alternative platform – with much lower ongoing costs of ownership. Coupled with this, CA Gen is one of only a few CASE tools to have this flexibility, allowing 100% of the model content to be ported across automatically.

This trend is something we’re seeing more and more of as organisations look to drive down operational costs. We’re working with a number of large CA Gen organisations who have identified the potential savings to be realised by replatforming, and who have many application models within their CA Gen portfolio. Instead of generating COBOL/DB2 (CICS and/or IMS) into their mainframe environment, we have worked with them to generate C or Java into their platform, using CA Gen’s ability to package the code into a load module which can then be generated for execution on that new lower-cost platform. This exercise, as you would expect includes all the necessary elements of the solution; the business requirements, action diagrams, business rules, database accesses and user interfaces. CA Gen also makes light work of the new middleware challenges and complexities.

'Worth' highlighted, under 'Value'

It’s all about maintaining the value in the application portfolio, while making savings

The only noticeable difference is that the application portfolio is now running on a platform which is cheaper and which does not necessarily have any negative impact on performance for that reduced cost. It’s quite possible that performance can be improved, but behind the scenes, the code has been generated in C or Java, for example, using Tuxedo middleware with data in an Oracle database rather than DB2.

Earlier, we mentioned the issue of EABs (and other external objects required to deliver the solution such as batch job JCL) – and the difficulties they may cause. This user-defined code, written outside CA Gen and specific to the target environment, requires specialist treatment, and organisations considering a replatforming exercise may be, understandably, put off by having to deal with, potentially, a large volume of work associated with the migration / rewrite of these EABs.

The solution is not as difficult as some may think. Jumar has automation tool support which will help to accelerate the re-write of the external logic, for example from COBOL to Java, or from COBOL to C.

By using our highly-automated approach, development time is greatly accelerated, and it opens up an opportunity to carry out further improvement initiatives in conjunction with the replatforming – for example, removing model corruptions, cleaning up models (e.g. to remove unused or redundant objects), the opportunity to improve the architecture of procedures, and other improvement tasks which add value and could prove highly beneficial to future maintenance.

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Jumar Solutions’ Andy Scott. Tel: +44 121 788 4550

This ability to switch generation options targeting alternative hardware and software platforms goes to demonstrate one of CA Gen’s biggest strengths – its platform independence. It is because of this that applications written, by programmers drinking 95p beer and driving for a dollar a gallon, are still of considerable value today but ported to more modern and cost-effective platforms. There aren’t many legacy systems which let you ride these wave of technology change with such comparative ease.

If you are planning, or have even started, a replatforming exercise in which CA Gen is involved, please feel free to drop us a line to discuss the options available in terms of automation, best practice, dealing with external objects, the potential for further modernisation, or just to find out more about our experiences. We’ve gone through this process with our customers many times, and we are confident that we can add value to your re-platforming initiative and can help you realise those significant cost and time savings.

For more information, please contact Andy or any member of the team on +44 121 788 4550 or drop us a line.