Sunday, 27 May 2012

Who'll buy BMC?

With the Facebook share launch turning into a bit of a fiasco, high tech company shares may not look like such a good deal at the moment. But taking the long view, is BMC Software ripe for picking?

As you know, BMC sells software that runs on mainframes. And, like everyone else, its moving into the cloud space. And it would be a pretty big organization for anyone to acquire. Bloomberg (the business and financial experts) reckon that it would be the eighth-largest US software acquisition on record. Bloomberg also suggest that the last similar-sized acquisition occurred before the 2008 crash.

If you were going to spend your money, perhaps a better choice would be to snap up a suffering Hewlett Packard, who this week layed off 27,000 people, and who’s profits slid 31 percent.

But for many investors, getting a foothold in the cloud space provides more opportunities going forward than buying into current technologies where sales are perhaps more stagnant.

So, who might be discussing a takeover of BMC? We can discount HP. But whatabout Dell? This year, Dell has acquired Make Technologies (a provider of application modernization software and services), Clerity Solutions (a provider of application modernization and legacy system re-hosting solutions and software), Wyse Technology (a leader in thin client computing devices and software), SonicWALL (a provider of network security, content security, Web and e-mail security, secure remote access, and business continuity solutions), and AppAssure (who do back-up software). Dell definitely appears to be moving into the enterprise software space – while still retaining its hardware base.

Cisco has also been acquisitive this year, getting its hands on Truviso (who supply scalable, real-time network data analysis and reporting software), ClearAccess (suppliers of TR-069-based software to service providers for the provisioning and management of residential and mobile devices), NDS Group (a provider of video software and content security solutions that enable service providers and media companies to securely deliver and monetize new video entertainment experiences), and Lightwire (who develop advanced optical interconnect technology for high-speed networking applications).

And then there’s always Oracle, who, this year, have acquired ClearTrial (a cloud-based clinical trial operations and analytics product) and Taleo (talent management software). They might feel that acquiring BMC protects them from rivals.

Or maybe someone will buy BMC and sell off the mainframe software that we’re familiar with and retain and develop the cloud stuff as a way of making money in the future.

SAP has only recently spent $4.3 billion on cloud computing firm Ariba. Perhaps they would like to get their hands on that part of BMC.

It will be interesting to see whether organizations are willing to risk such large sums of money that an acquisition of BMC Technologies would require in these straightened times. Or maybe asset stripping is the only way forward?

We’ll be keeping an eye on the news.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Making it look nice for CICS users

Let’s look at an archetypal MVS site. Kenny wrote most of the original Assembler and quite a bit of the COBOL code that drove the business all those years ago. He was a big man and a real hippie. He even came to work in his sandals and decorated his office with album covers. He thought that writing comments in code was just a waste of time. Doug, who took over from Kenny was an absolute troglodyte. Whereas Kenny was fun to go for a drink with – and boy could he drink – Doug was forever under the floor connecting high speed back-up technology that no-one else really understood. He was great because he’d help everyone with code problems, but he seldom turned up to meetings or understood the concept of budgets. But everything worked like a dream and the company made money.

Nowadays we’ve got Ross heading up software on our z/OS CICS system. He does attend meetings – lots of them. He’s on the committee at a local user group and he’s given presentations at SHARE. He’s even got a wife and children! The problem is that much of the code that Ross looks after is quite old and doesn’t have many comments. There was an effort in 1999 to document everything, but it’s now out-of-date since the SOA (Services-Oriented Architecture) project.

The trouble at many sites is that their Ross is kept very busy at the mainframe end of his CICS system and thinks that the bit of AJAX on the Web browser front-end is enough to keep the end users happy. The truth is, end users are never happy! So what if someone at a conference told Ross there was an easy way (well, perhaps not easy, but fairly straightforward certainly) to make the end user experience of his CICS applications look like it was written in 2012 and not 1912!?!? Do you think Ross would be interested?

Before we look at what this amazing solution might be, let’s briefly look at Web design. Back in 1999, a Web site was pretty much made up of static pages. Someone wrote the pages in HTML and, over time, people updated the information on those pages. Then we had PHP and MySQL. This provided a database that users could update as necessary, and the PHP pages pulled out the latest information. They still looked like static pages, but they were easier to update. Then, we had JavaScript that gave us programming capabilities and all the flexibility that goes with that. Then we had JQuery, which was JavaScript with all the hard work already done for us. You’ve seen Web sites with JQuery-like effects – the ability to click on a thumbnail image and see it large in the middle of the page while much of the rest of the screen is covered with a semi-transparent layer. An example would be clicking on a photo in Facebook.

So let’s tell Ross about the Dojo Toolkit from the Dojo Foundation. Now at Version 1.7, the Web site at says: “Dojo saves you time and scales with your development process, using web standards as its platform. It’s the toolkit experienced developers turn to for building high quality desktop and mobile web applications.” Now, suppose there was some way to plug that into CICS. So while Ross was looking after the CICS applications, Dojo was making sure that the end users had a good experience.

The Virtual CICS user group ( heard from Stephen Mitchell, Managing Director of Matter of Fact Software Limited, earlier this month. He gave a talk entitled: “Utilizing the Dojo Toolkit for Web browser-driven applications from CICS”, which really got to grips with how CICS and the Dojo Toolkit could be integrated. The base functionality of the Dojo Toolkit is made available to a Web page by including a link to dojo.js. This includes plenty of features like CSS-based queries, event handling, animations, AJAX, class-based programming, and a package system that makes getting access to the rest of Dojo very easy.

There are additional stable (but optional) components for advanced animations, I/O, data, drag-and-drop, and much more with Dojo Core. Dijit is Dojo’s theme-able, accessible, easy-to-customize UI library. Dijit requires Dojo Base and various Dojo Core modules to use. It allows for the creation of widgets. For the more adventurous, there’s DojoX, which contains a number of sub-projects based on the Dojo Base. Each project has a varying states of maturity – from very stable and robust to alpha.

Stephen’s company recognized a need to control the Dojo Toolkit that was being used by their PlexSpy application status monitor product. And they decided that if it was an issue for them, it was most likely an issue for others. So they created a generic server solution that could be used by anyone with CICS on z/OS. As a consequence, the Dojo Toolkit has been taken into the mainframe environment and is served from CICS out of PDSs. This brings the strengths of the mainframe to sites using the Dojo Toolkit – providing the control over it that those sites needed.

Ross can now put his feet up at home with his family knowing that his end users are happy with their working environment. And the code Kenny and Doug wrote is still doing its job for another generation.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

How’s business?

Since 2008, the world seems to have lurched its way from one financial crisis to the next. In the UK they’re talking about double dip recession. In Spain, things look difficult. And in Greece, things look impossible! So how are the big mainframe companies weathering the storm? Are we looking at an extinction-level event? Are the big players (the metaphorically dominant dinosaurs) going to be replaced by smaller companies (the metaphorical mammals)?

For people who like this kind of thing, there are meant to have been five mass extinctions in the Earth’s history. There’s the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event (about 65.5 million years ago) when about 75% of species became extinct, seeing the end of the dinosaurs, and mammals and birds becoming the dominant land vertebrates.

There’s also the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event (205 million years ago). The Permian–Triassic extinction event (251 million years ago), which is referred to as the ‘Great Dying’. The Late Devonian extinction was about 375–360 million years ago. And the Ordovician–Silurian extinction event was 450–440 million years ago.

BMC Software’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings fell 42%. On the dowside there was an increase in operating expenses, while on the up side they saw slightly improved revenue. It seems that cloud services bookings totalled $100 million for the year – 10% ahead of analysts’ projections. The company closed its acquisition of Numara Software, which added to revenue in the fourth quarter, and gave BMC additional IT management tools and distribution to mid-sized companies. BMC also has 25% more sales people than it had a year ago. Looking at the bottom line: for the quarter ended 31 March, BMC Software reported a profit of $70.7 million, or 43 cents a share, down from $122.5 million, or 67 cents a share, a year earlier.

CA Technologies’ fourth-quarter earnings increased from last year, helped mainly by lower income tax payments. Revenues for the quarter rose 5 percent from last year, but were mostly offset by increased product development and general expenses. Its fourth-quarter net income was $211 million or $0.45 per share, compared to $188 million or $0.37 per share last year. Its net income jumped by 12%.

IBM recently reported flat revenues as its hardware business struggled in the first quarter of 2012. Revenues increased by just 0.3 percent to $24.7billion from the same period last year, although profits increased by 7.1 per cent to $3bn. IBM’s figures for each of its major divisions were generally positive, especially its cloud services, which saw revenue double, however its hardware business suffered a 6.7 percent decline in revenue to $3.7billion. IBM has raised its 2012 full-year earnings per share forecast to at least $15.00.

I couldn’t find any figures for Progress|DataDirect.

So, it seems financially to be a bit mixed rather than anywhere near an extinction for the big beasts of the mainframe software world. There may be a number of small mammals running around their feet, but these metaphorical dinosaurs are far from fighting for their very existence. It’s always worth remembering that dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrate for around 135 million years. Mainframes have only been with us since the 1960s They’ve still got quite a long way to go!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

If it's May it must be Madness

For the fourth year in a row, CA Technologies is hosting its free virtual trade show. As always, there are educational presentations to help mainframe users get more value from their existing products, and improve their technical skills. You can find out more and register by going to Last year’s event drew 5,000 registrants from 59 countries; and connected partners, industry experts, and colleagues via virtual booths and online chats.

MMM12 includes presentations by CA Technologies and leading industry experts including Julie Craig, research director, application management, Enterprise Management Associates; Jon Toigo, CEO of Toigo Partners, International LLC; Joe Clabby, president, Clabby Analytics; Craig Mullins, president, Mullins Consulting; Stu Henderson, president, The Henderson Group; and DB2 expert Sheryl Larson, president of Sheryl M Larson, Inc.

There’s also keynote speakers including: CA’s Dayton Semerjian; Dr Howard Rubin, President and CEO of Rubin Worldwide; Julie Craig, CA’s research director; Jon Toigo, CEO Toigo Partners; and Karen Sleeth, Senior Principal CA Labs.

From 1 to 31 May, CA claims it’s “the largest mainframe-focused event of its kind. Every weekday in May brings new insights, tools, and strategies to help you understand and maximize the strength and relevance of 21st century mainframe solutions. There are more than 100+ valuable sessions, demos, papers, and other valuable tools available over every business day in May, so you won’t want to miss a thing! From application development and performance, to databases and storage, to Linux on System z, MMM 2012 has your area covered!”

You may recall that Arcati’s Mark Lillycrop and I were involved in a Networking Lounge conversation during last year’s mainframe madness.

The great thing about this event is that you don’t need to leave your desk. There’s no travel costs, hotel costs, meals, replacement staff costs etc. You just log-in from your laptop.

The same applies to the Virtual CICS user group meeting on Tuesday 8 May. At 10:30am CDT, Stephen Mitchell, Managing Director of Matter of Fact Software Limited, will be discussing “Utilizing the Dojo Toolkit for Web browser-driven applications from CICS”.

Modern Web applications need a user interface that gives a positive experience, is functionally effective, and pleasing on the eye. Creating such user interfaces can be quite difficult using the browser’s native Javascript language. Javascript libraries such as the Dojo Toolkit facilitate the creation and delivery of modern Web applications. CICS on z/OS is fully capable of servicing the needs of Web applications. This presentation discusses how the Dojo Toolkit can be exploited by CICS Web applications. Reference is made to the business issues encountered when deciding to use the Dojo Toolkit in a software solution that already uses the CICS Web interface.

If you want to register for the presentation, you need to go to If you want to find out more go to Or if you’re an IMS specialist go to to find out about future IMS-related presentations.

Online events like CA’s May Mainframe Madness and virtual user group meetings like the Virtual CICS user group this coming week save attendees time while delivering the information they’d get from physically attending an event. And for their organization, the savings are huge – which is why we’re seeing more events of this type, and why they are so successful.