Archives for December 2020

December 21, 2020 - Comments Off on ‘COBOL skills shortage’ is actually a ‘knowledge attrition’ problem

‘COBOL skills shortage’ is actually a ‘knowledge attrition’ problem

December 21, 2020

By Todd Erickson

Phase Change COO Steve Brothers was interviewed and quoted in a TechRadar Pro article published on December 18 about the 'COBOL skills shortage.' He shared his insights on how 'knowledge attrition' – an organization's declining application knowledge due to the departure of experienced software developers – was really the cause of government system failures during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why it remains a serious problem today.

Legacy applications and the COBOL skills shortage were widely blamed for government financial-aid system failures during the first few months of the Coronavirus pandemic. But the TechRadar Pro article revealed that the system failures were not a result of the lack of COBOL programmers. The problem was a severe shortage of legacy-application programmers that understand how these legendary applications work and what the source code does.

“In the COBOL space, you have millions of lines of active code and, to perform necessary maintenance, you need developers that understand what that code does," Brothers said. "But when you’re writing complex applications, code written in the morning becomes legacy by the afternoon.”

The story describes Phase Change's initial market product, COBOL Colleague, which is currently in beta testing and scheduled for release in Q2, and how it is designed to collaborate with developers new to legacy applications and make it easier for them to complete maintenance tasks without requiring experienced colleagues or subject matter experts.

Read more about the 'COBOL knowledge attrition problem' facing government and large financial systems in TechRadar Pro's December 18 article, "We're all at the mercy of this decades-old programming language, but we’ve been thinking about it all wrong."

Todd Erickson is a Technology Writer with Phase Change. You can reach him at terickson@phasechange.ai.

December 17, 2020 - Comments Off on Phase Change granted fourth U.S. patent

Phase Change granted fourth U.S. patent

December 16, 2020

By Todd Erickson

Phase Change was recently issued the fourth patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) related to its ground-breaking software-development technology. The company's first patent was granted in May 2019, and subsequent patents were issued in October and December of the same year. This fourth patent is scheduled to be issued on December 29, 2020.

The first patent is based on the consideration that one function or specification can be implemented in many different ways. This patent provides a method to automatically replace a snippet of code with another snippet of code if these are determined to be strictly equivalent. Using a logical analysis of the two functions, our tool can determine if they are equivalent or not. If they are equivalent, the snippet of code is automatically replaced by the new one, provided that it improves the overall program in some way.

Phase Change's second patent is built upon the first and focuses on improving readability and maintainability. This patent is based on the consideration that the source code of many programs today suffer from a lack of readability (e.g. spaghetti code including “GO TO” statements) and/or maintainability (e.g. legacy code). Using the same logical mechanism as the first patent, this invention will replace a snippet of code with another equivalent snippet of code that has been previously identified as better with respect to readability and/or maintainability.

The recent patent is also built upon the first patent and focuses on security considerations. It is based on the consideration that the source code of many programs today may not have sufficient security components to protect the applications from wrongful and intrusive attempts, such as hacking and piracy efforts. Using the same logical mechanism as the first patent, this invention will replace a snippet of code with another equivalent snippet of code that has been previously identified as better with respect to security.

Phase change was granted another foundational patent in December 2019. This invention normalizes the source code into a language-agnostic representation called Dependency-Ordered Behavior (DOB), a representation that doesn’t depend on the specificity of the programing language (e.g. Java, C, or COBOL), but solely on the behavior of the application. Once the source code is normalized, this tool can easily extract paths within the application and associate these paths with semantic names. Combinations of paths can also automatically create combinations of semantic names.

Phase Change currently has 13 active patent applications in four countries. For more information on Phase Change’s patent portfolio, email info@phasechange.ai.

Todd Erickson is a Technology Writer with Phase Change. You can reach him at terickson@phasechange.ai.

December 16, 2020 - Comments Off on Phase Change Colorado holiday gift guide

Phase Change Colorado holiday gift guide

December 16, 2002

By Todd Erickson

Due to the social restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, our annual company Holiday Party was in jeopardy of cancelation, including our "White Elephant Gift Exchange" that filled the party room with an afternoon of good-natured trash talk and humor.

So, as so many organizations and families have done this year, we adapted. We took the party online and swapped the White Elephant Gift Exchange for a "Steal the Card!" gift card exchange.

We also recognized the importance of supporting local businesses during this unsettled economic time by purchasing all of our employee-appreciation gifts and gift cards from Colorado merchants. We found a myriad of creative Colorado merchants with unequaled craftsmanship, and we decided to share our list in hopes that others would also support our Colorado neighbors and community members.

Let us know if you are interested in how we put together our Zoom holiday party and "Steal the Card!" online gift-card exchange.

Todd Erickson is a Technology Writer with Phase Change. You can reach him at terickson@phasechange.ai.

December 14, 2020 - Comments Off on Modernize your mainframe instead of migrating away for higher customer and company satisfaction says IDC study

Modernize your mainframe instead of migrating away for higher customer and company satisfaction says IDC study

December 2, 2020

by Todd Erickson

Modernizing your IBM mainframe instead of migrating off the platform leads to higher customer and company satisfaction says and IDC study of 440 organizations in Australia, India, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Commissioned by Rocket Software, a legacy infrastructure consulting firm, the study as reported by IT Jungle found that IBM shops that modernized their IBM mainframe infrastructure instead of migrating to more modern platforms were more satisfied across a number of metrics before and after the projects.

The shops that modernized reported higher satisfaction than the shops than migrated across the following 7 metrics:

  1. customer experience;
  2. overall performance;
  3. security, availability, and disaster recovery capabilities;
  4. agility, microservices, and DevOps;
  5. ease of finding talent;
  6. ability to incorporate AI and IoT;
  7. and API, mobile, and Web enablement.

According to the study report, in addition to seeing higher satisfaction ratings, the organizations that modernized generally reported paying less on hardware, software, and staffing.

The study seems to dispel the common IT industry myth that mainframe platforms are less capable than more modern systems simply because of their age. You can read more about the study in the IT Jungle article, "Modernization trumps migration for IBM I and mainframe, IDC says."

Todd Erickson is a Technology Writer with Phase Change. You can reach him at terickson@phasechange.ai.