Apr 28, 2003 (08:04 AM EDT)
Modernizing Cobol

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

Relativity Technologies Inc. is no longer casting itself as the lifeguard racing to save the sinking swimmer. Rather, it has taken its former RescueWare software and recast it as a Modernization Workbench for Cobol code.

The move reflects the views of its new president and CEO, Steve Maysonave, who believes that many Cobol applications are critical to business but are only running in maintenance mode. Modernization Workbench, which contains code tools that weren't part of RescueWare, could be just the thing to keep them running smoothly, he says.

Other Cobol applications, while a bit seedy, need to be "renovated," not rescued, Maysonave says, and Modernization Workbench includes new modules to analyze their code and rearchitect them into a more easily maintained app. One rearchitecting move is to identify specific components of the application, then partition it into distinct user-interface, business-logic, and data-access layers, he says.

"I assumed Cobol shops had addressed these problems when they did their year 2000 work," Maysonave says. "Instead, they fixed Y2K like a flat tire and kept going. They did not go in and fix other problems."

Another module of Modernization Workbench is Business Rule Manager, a tool that finds the business rules locked in the aging Cobol code. It follows data flows, variable uses, and outputs to the user screen to highlight the rules that underlie the application, notes Charles Dickerson, VP of marketing. The module "helps unlock rules from source code, isolate them, and generate reports on them," Dickerson says.

If the analysis, rearchitecting, and business-rule identification indicate the victim really needs rescuing, then there's a fourth module, Transformation Assistant. It's used to ease the migration of Cobol code to more modern languages by supporting the conversion to Java, C++, Visual Basic, and XML.

The workbench will also work for conversion of programs written in IBM's PL/1, another legacy app language, or Software AG's Natural, an aging fourth-generation language often used with the Adabas database system.

Modernization Workbench is packaged at prices that range from $50,000 to $200,000, depending on a customer's requirements.