COBOL, a dead programming language, right? Well yes. Sort of. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Eighty percent of the world’s daily business transactions rely on a 59-year-old programming language called COBOL …” So, like mainframe computers and tape, it may not be cool but it isn’t dead.
Although COBOL continues to age gracefully, the baby boomers that make up the bulk of COBOL programmers are indeed retiring. Written in COBOL or any other programing language, applications aren’t just being shut down and sent to the virtual porch rocker. In many if not most instances some level of operation is being maintained. Access to the historical data is needed for both regulatory and business purposes. Even when data is migrated from the legacy application and placed in an archive, it isn’t unusual for the original app to be called back from the rocking chair. In the case of COBOL, it’s been ported to virtually every hardware platform, so reuse of the code is common practice. Why not? It embodies six decades of investment and programing wisdom.
Now, for any application, data virtualization is helping businesses to achieve a comprehensive, application-centric approach to application and data retirement. It automates the full lifecycle regardless of program language. Data virtualization helps automate a data management system that accelerates application development, improves application deployment, and integrates application retirement. Better applications get built faster. Developers get self-service data access so cycle times for application development are reduced along with operational and infrastructure expenses. New application code quality improves and time-to-market is reduced. Once virtualized, application data policies can be set for data use and retention however an organization needs it. For the entire data lifecycle, it’s transformative.
“Actifio’s offering creates new use cases that improve user options to help create business agility, resilience and cloud access. Actifio delivers full lifecycle application data management in a way no other provider can, across the varying requirements of application Development, Management, and Retirement.”
The experience of one manufacturer illustrates how data virtualization has become essential to data management. They’re heavily dependent on IT systems and applications for reliable customer services and production schedules. However, they had a critical difficulty in protecting some core applications and systems. Data was being backed up to tape but the operating systems and applications were not. This created a crucial vulnerability to the business. If they were to lose an older server or face corruption of an older OS version, they had no mechanism or internal knowledge to reinstall the application or OS. Consultants and staff familiar with older applications were no longer available to assist. Install files were missing. They needed a capability for a combined restoration of applications, VMs and data from the archive.
After installing Actifio One, they quickly realized new benefits beyond backup and archive. It became their means for full, immediate, operational application restore. It happened when a critical VMI server failed. With the help of Actifio One, the full system VM, OS and data were restored in less than ten minutes. With the old system, their alternative would have been to take time to troubleshoot the issue with only a capability to restore data, not server or application. Instead, the entire restore was easily done without a delay for troubleshooting.
Now they plan to modernize with a series of major application replacements. As the new apps come on-line, older apps will be retired using Actifio One as a secure archive. Regulatory compliance and historical records access will be fully satisfied by maintaining relationships of full system VM, OS and data. The whole package can be easily recalled and operationally restored.
What they have discovered is a set of cascading benefits. Once application data is virtualized in production, Actifio enables enhanced data management, providing better data protection, access, and control. Virtualizing data frees applications from infrastructure, enhancing business resiliency, agility, and data mobility in ways that save time, money, and complexity. Like their data, IT executives are freed from the constraints of legacy infrastructure. They focus more attention, energy, and resources on the requirements of the business and not on the limitations of the technology.
It’s not just a different way of doing business. It’s a new way of thinking.
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