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A Focus on Refresh

Joseph Gulla explores the first "R" in his "renew, refresh and rework" model using an example featuring Java.

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In this post, I concentrate on approaches and tactics to refresh aspects of a computing portfolio. In the first post in this series, I asked, “Is there a model that will help us analyze and begin to address difficult obstacles regarding needed change, expansion of method or complexity?” The model I proposed involved three Rs: renew, refresh and rework. Last week, we explored renew, now let’s consider refresh using an example featuring Java. 
Consider Java
The focus of refresh is an ongoing need to rejuvenate, such as adding new capabilities to a portfolio and deemphasizing others. Consider the case of application modernization. Modernization can be defined as taking what you have today, applications written in one or more languages, and rewriting, updating and improving them to meet the needs of today’s users. Today, IT consumers access applications in new ways including the web, cloud systems and mobile technologies. Java helps with this by building on the languages that you already have and use. 
Java has the ability to integrate with modern IT architectures and standards and work with other programming languages. Java also has excellent support with powerful middleware like CICS and IMS. There is also specific support for Java in batch. Java fits well with a strategy of smaller application changes (e.g., microservice versus monolith approaches) and Java skills are easier to find than COBOL. IBM supports Java with both 31- and 64-bit SDKs and has powerful developer kits and support tools.
According to Rick Oppedisano, COBOL applications and databases don't integrate with modern IT architecture or business intelligence tools as well as Java and other languages. In addition, "new features and functionality can take up to 10x longer to implement in COBOL than they can in a modern language like Java or C#.” Since Java has strengths over COBOL in this area, it’s a good idea to pair it with COBOL for specific kinds of work. 
Many organizations need to keep languages like COBOL yet want to embrace other languages that can do some application development tasks faster and simpler. Adding Java doesn’t mean throwing out COBOL but adding Java to the mix in a thoughtful way that refreshes the application development language portfolio. Java is important to modernization, but it’s not the only facet of modernization being carried out in IT departments. 
Expected Outcomes   
Refreshing an organization’s application-language portfolio is important and useful. Rejuvenation of the applications themselves is typically part of the implementation of a digital strategy that embraces the web, mobility and the use of API management software. Java is not the only thread, but it’s certainly one of the most important items refreshing the fabric of modern IT. You should have high expectations when you add Java to the mix and you will likely not be disappointed as you add new technical capabilities and human talent.  

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