Relativity To Team With IGS For COBOL Modernization

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IBM has tapped Relativity Technologies to provide modernization tools to help IBM Global Services update mainframe applications, CRN has learned.

Relativity, based here, and IGS plan to provide tools and services that help customers update COBOL applications through Relativity's Modernization Workbench, sources close to Relativity told CRN.

At IBM's developerWorks Live show in New Orleans last month, IGS unveiled two new services to help customers update legacy applications. Relativity will be a key partner in providing those services, sources said.

Recent Aberdeen Group research found that about 70 percent of the world's business data is still processed by mainframe applications written in COBOL, and IBM claims that there are more than 200 billion lines of COBOL code running on mainframes. Solution providers say accessing these legacy applications and integrating them with Web-based apps is a major headache when working on large IT projects.

Relativity, which traditionally provided tools for the transformation of COBOL code into Java, recently revamped its company strategy, said Relativity President and CEO Steve Maysonave.

Maysonave joined the company in February to help refocus Relativity's mission, he said.

Relativity repackaged its RescueWare transformation tools into the Modernization Workbench, which provides an incremental approach to updating legacy code, Maysonave said. "Most companies today don't want to do a complete [code] changeover--they're afraid of big, massive projects," he said.

The workbench consists of four modules that can be used separately: Application Analyzer, which generates HTML analysis of legacy applications; Application Architect, which re-engineers COBOL applications for easier management; Business Rules Manager, which helps developers reuse business rules from legacy code; and Transformation Assistant, which provides partitioning of legacy applications.

Marc Maselli, president of solution provider Back Bay Technologies, Boston, agreed that Relativity's new step-by-step approach reflects the current IT environment in which customers are hesitant to undertake large projects that re-engineer legacy code.

"It's daunting to take away all of that legacy logic and migrate applications [to Java]," he said of existing mainframe code.

Instead, Maselli said customers are building out EAI strategies that utilize Web services and other connector technology to access the data and logic from legacy systems.

Pieces of Relativity's solution such as the Application Analyzer would be helpful to identify existing COBOL assets, Maselli said.

To accompany its new strategy, Relativity adopted a partner-friendly compensation model for its salespeople so they receive more commission on partner deals, Maysonave said. "We changed compensation plans on Jan. 1 so field sales people are incented to work with partners," he said."

Relativity, which has a direct-sales background, said it also is readying a formal channel program to launch in about a month.

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