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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Application Portfolio Management - Best Practices

It's tough to control your application portfolio. Your systems have been developed over the course of years or even decades. The people that developed the apps may have moved on to other roles and documentation is out of date. So, the portfolio gets more and more complex. And that complexity means they are slower to adapt and more expensive to maintain.

Application portfolio management is an approach to help return control to application managers. In this series of posts, I'll take a look at best practices for managing the application portfolio.

  • Goal: Constant fire-fighting is no way to run a development organization. Especially in today's era of tight budgets and fast change. In this post I'll summarize the goal of APM and set the stage for a discussion of best practices. Read the post.

  • Questions and Metrics: APM data should answer questions that address a specific goal. Say, ‘why is this business process inflexible?’, ‘where can I cut costs?’, or ‘where is my software architecture flawed?’. To answer these different questions requires different combinations and weightings of data (user surveys, application code, or external sources). Sometimes more of one source, sometimes another. Read the post.
  • Decision-Makers: APM data needs vary based on where you are in the organization. Higher level managers require higher level abstractions, particularly of technical metrics. Also, different types of users will have different data needs. An architect may want technical complexity data, but it may only be meaningful to him if it is filtered by architectural models. Read the post.
  • Maturity: There are different levels of maturity for decision-making. This maturity directly affects which metrics are accessible in the first place and also indirectly because it determines the kind of business goals that an organization is prepared to address. Read the post.
  • What’s next: As a particular initiative moves from “decision” to “action”, different data may be needed. More “bottom-up” data may be necessary to implement the decisions at this stage. Further, different metrics can be monitored to ensure the success of a given development or modernization project as it is executed. Read the post.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Precision: What is it Precisely?

Alex has an interesting post over on Nerds Central which I believe you may find of value.

He details a couple of useful items specific to decimal precision in Cobol and Java.  It is interesting  because it illustrates the use of a Cobol data type I've not played with, float-long. 

Float-Long came about a few years ago, along with Float-Short and Float-Extended and was made part of the 2002 Standard I believe.  To make a long story short, Float-Long isn't quite as accurate as you would hope, but does have its uses.  Alex provides a complete example showing how to acheive both an exact arithmatic answer using a Comp data type and how to use the Float-Long data type.

The other reason I find the post of interest is that in his article, it appears the Java code can only duplicate what the Cobol Float-Long data type provides (which is inaccurate), not the more precise answer he achieved using the more standard Cobol data type of Comp-1. 

Am I mistaken in my interpretation of the Java sample he provided?

This looks like a red flag to me if your Java code is doing any math which requires a high level of accuracy on the right side of the decimal.

Can someone verify this and post a Java-based example confirming/denying the problem?

I'm curious but only know enough Java to be able to nod in the right places when talking with a Java developer. *smile*

P.S.:  The Visual Studio 2010 Launch in Las Vegas was quite the event.  Thanks to various issues with my plane ride (rerouted due to medical emergency and then detained in Albuquerque, NM due to mechanical issues, etc), it only took me 20 hours or so to make the 3 and 1/2 hour trip home.  At least I wasn't flying to London!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Visual Cobol. You gotta see it

Hey folks!

I'm in lovely Las Vegas on the conference floor talking with customers about the new Visual Cobol release which is being announced at the Visual Studio 2010 Launch.

So far the feedback has been that this is really slick stuff indeed.  This is the first time I've gotten a chance to look at the new syntax support.  Micro Focus development has done a tremendous job simplifying the syntax.  If you haven't looked at the articles out on C# Corner, go take a quick look.

Oh well, gotta go.  Mike wants his laptop back!