#3 – IUG International (Virtual) User Conference 2020 – “Docker, Docker, give me the news….”

I sincerely apologise about the delay, unfortunately, nothing gets in the way of work (also family, holidays and other commitments – “Letting the days go by, letting the water hold me down…”), nonetheless, this posts content was siting idly. In future, i’ll try to make my posts a little more succinct and less grandeur to ensure we keep the momentum going and encourage discussion. Again, sorry it’s been a while, enjoy!

For this week’s instalment, i’ll be focusing on the first Virtual international User Group conference hosted by Software AG. As a regular frequenter of the events in the past, i’ll give my insight into the differences between the actual attendance and how this year’s conference held up. I really hope if you are reading this blog, you either attended or use to opportunity to review the content form the 2020 conference.

Overall impression (lighthearted reading ahead, skip to the content below for the more technically minded people)

Pulling together something for this established time honoured tradition would have endured a monumental effort, furthermore, finding something to host it in a short space of time must have been difficult. With all that in mind, the interface for the presentation excelled: simple to navigate, visually appealing and plenty of things to explore; the ‘Talk to the’ experts and vendors really added a nice touch to the overall experience. An absolute credit to the creators of the site and hats off to Software AG, well done!

There was plenty of fun interactive games, add your picture to the wall and design a conference mascot, I hope you got amongst it, I did, here is my submission for the conference ‘mascot competition’:

I really gave my MS PAINT skills a good workout, yikes (my daughter hated the creepy eyes, I told her that’s the “latest art trend”)… please let me know Adobe Photoshop is on sale.

Main emerging trends – Transition (Lift and shift), Containerisation (Docker) and the API’s are coming

Transition to linux, transition to cloud (including running everything in there – Docker packages – Adabas, natural, natural one!)

Future right here!
Empowering App Development for Developers | Docker

There have been plenty of presentations more recently displaying the viability and ease of installing and executing Natural and Adabas in containers. I personally am going to dabble shortly, and, try to write the first MAL (LISP) https://github.com/kanaka/mal using this setup (For Natural and COBOL) – keep tuned, i’m sure it will show up in a blog page sooner or later (if and when I master it).

API development is something every site should be contemplating, ease of access, self documenting and security for consumption of your precious data is so important. There are lots of geared development in this space and i encourage every developer to gain a basic understanding of REST based delivery of web services and API development. I personally have been driving innovation in that space and enjoying great success.

Ah Swagger, SOS.

Anything missing?…

Now, the best part of these conferences, as much as the content is always exciting and fascinating, is the opportunity to network with people, catch up with old friends and make some new ones. There were opportunities to catch up during the conference with others in the virtual chat rooms, what I would have liked to have seen was the opportunity to video conference in ‘zoom/teams’ type rooms and join a particular conversation stream.

My friends and I took the opportunity to tune in together, here we are all enthralled at midnight (AEST) – perhaps beer in hand too!

But, nonetheless, there truly wasn’t anything missing from this years conference (perhaps the nostalgic touches of amazing cuisine, slightly too many drinks and the sights sounds and smells of historic European regions – if Software AG can make that virtual).

A toast to you – SoftwareAG

Pep as a host added a wonderful light-hearted touch, intelligible yet full of comedic schtic, a great addition.

I hope you enjoyed a taste of the user group conference, and perhaps, to satiate your appetite in the future, visiting next year’s international user conference will be on the cards and i’ll see you there.

General sessions

Below are summary points from my notes, sorry if it is succinct and somewhat jumbled, I was taking it all in!

Intro, warm, welcoming and acknowledging continuing support.

PLATFORM agnostic – Covered

Real life example:
Cumulocity -Example with webmethods and machine learing
Wind park Designs
Lots of data!
But wanted to equip a new sensor, vibration sensor
Vibration alert out of the box triggered an alarm

Now – attempted to predict the wind speed!
Toolbox to create sophisticated integration
Webmethods integration hub
Very simply wysiwig design to pull infor from weather site, fills the chain and predicts weather forecast in cumolocity.
Provides a data hub (data lake) as part of the product.

Can predict many other things, eg consumption again against that data hub

Combination of open source and internal platforms

Process mining – which variant is the root cause for … your problem – eg waste material, pin points problem – compared to traditional BI.

Adabas and Natural Application
Still delivering value – Security and Cost efficient, availability and performance.

2050+ reinforced again.

Roadmap to the cloud for A & N.
MF -> Linux
Linux -> Cloud

Covid and it’s impact – take the positive from the negative
Trends accelerated – Working from home – impacted and enabled a lot of people, home schooling.
Connectedness – changes everything (Digitisation) –

Three main themes of impact
Supply chain, Source material not available or expensive – Margin Drops
Banks – Adoption of digital channels – reduce their costs

Resilience – Incorporate into the operating model
new types of operation risks for operation

Agility – Challenges and opportunities – Business had to adapt very quickly.
Shift to digital channels,

People were begging for guidance

Agile businesses can change within months (eg 3 months compared to 4 years). Creates business resilliance

Day 2/3 – A & N streams

General overview and roadmap

Wonderful introduction and to see people + regular faces and presidents

Presidents homage to the first conference, alumni recognition.

One astounding figure that still shows the importance of Adabas & Natural still generates 25% of revenue for Software AG, this combined with the 2050+ commitment demonstrates legacy applications will continue to flourish with opportunities for further improvement in the coming years

Ziip (offload Adabas and Natural mainframe processing) is still going great and proven cost reduction

Adabas Encryption will be enabled using IBM encryption processes and siginicant improvements on auditing and reporting capabilities

Linux to the cloud is a small step!
Close partnership with Azure and AWS
Adabas cluster for linux *for high availablity
Adabas encryption for linux

Freedom for legacy initiative
Encompasses Natural, Cobol, Assembler, MQ, Db2, VSAM, IMS, Adabas

They are starting an Adabas & Natural Academy
Training program for students in computer science, qualifications and plenty more

Check out all the exciting catalogue to become accredited and help your new starts https://knowledge.softwareag.com/

Cloud and container is more relevant – on everyone’s mind
Sharing data through platforms like apis

3 identified problems:
Cost savings
Retirement staff
Monolithic application architecture

These are Holding you back to integrate with new technologies.

SAG believes in the cloud – to deploy and run your applications (in combination with on premises environment – may reside on MF or with Linux). More of a ‘hybrid cloud’

Encyrption huge topic – and Adabas Encryption will be delivered 2020, leveraging IBM Z Encryption and
enhancing auditing – who, what when
Ziip yet again – up to 97% saving

Improved NatONe installation (lean)
Optimised Unit testing

The Youtube how to videos, digital e-learning (enables you to run your own course, self training)

Simplifying presentation modernisation (eg to mobile or web).

API enablement enhanced
Integration – Rest enablement

Freedom for legacy webinar 2020
Greater details of APIs and Mainframes, Data

Ability to spin up test environments easily (cloud based)

+1 for native REST support in Natural – This was discussed in an after meeting chat.

Containerise Nat 4 ajax
Do not need the os setup, server set up etc, saves that
It helps to ensure stablity including app code, configuration and
Build from source
Automate the build, test and deploy
Treat them as cattle, not pets! (Don;t worry if a container crashes, bring up a new, patched OS, include updated natural runtime) no downtime!
Kubernetes – Don;t need to worry about the hosted cloud environment either, it handles it for it (eg host vm crashes, not your problem, cloud provider will spin up a new one automatically).

Day 4

  • Generational change
  • Workforce planning
  • In line with organisation strategy (Company’s direction 5yr to 10yr).
  • Quality and quantity of the workforce
  • HR Strategy

Generational change: Discover how NaturalONE opened the door to recruit developers right out of college

Be ready to have innovative recruiting strategies (online tech communities, presence online & career fairs).

This is a great table to identify and potentially improve successful or flailing staff

Generational change: Using Software AG in 2020 and beyond

The key points from this presentation is good work culture is essential to retaining successful and loyal staff.

Something impacting all of our specialised vocation is recruiting and retaining staff… it’s so hard when the flashing lights blindingly consume any potential retention of talented staff (and unfortunately the time and effort spent training feels like a overwhelming loss when staff leave).

Reminds me of one of my favourite Warrent Buffet quotes: “If you enjoy your job, you’ll never work a day in your life”.

Unleash Natural! Develop, build and deploy in Docker

Another problem solving solution, excellent presentation. It’s hard to keep up with the breakneck speed of Stefan and his team, but with innovators like that, they set a great pace and show exactly what is capable for all sites worldwide. Not happy with his 7 minutes to production (previously presented), his team are moving mountains, with images galore for dev setups, devops incorporation and unique test environments. They are on the bleeding edge and delivering continuous integration all the way to prod, amazing!

GiTea – Delicious! (Similar to BitBucket) – Another marvellous presentation by Stefan Macke

Integration with CONNX to the cloud
Support for Cloud DW
Integrate Adabas with any relational database

With the industry’s largest set of database connectors, CONNX offers real-time, read/write SQL access, using open data access standards, to virtually any legacy, non-relational, relational, cloud, big data, in-memory, or other data source.

I Took a COBOL Course and It Wasn't The Worst | Hacker Noon
Come on, COBOL isn’t that hard! (well maybe a little, none of our full stack developers seem to get it)

Seeing the data magically transition seamlessly through the cloud, regardless of back-end system and allowing it to be accessed from anywhere with ease is really amazing, shows exactly what any software development is capable of in the modern world.


Revamped forums, get active, help your follow Software AG members, contribute. They look great and I have personally subscribed to receive every update, there is a lot more activity.


The training academy and links to the YouTube tutorials, train and study at your own pace.


Finally, look for further opportunities where you can – live presentations and community feedback opportunities.

Options like this are being hosted by Software AG on a monthly basis

Tip of the blog-berg

Z/OS File Explorer (#EX2 – Z/OS File Explorer plugin)

If you’re still using a mainframe alongside your sites solution (and your head isn’t in the clouds yet), no doubt you’ve travelled the trails of alternating between your IDE (NaturalONE) (or Natural for Windows) and your handy dandy Mainframe/IBM emulator.

You no doubt would require the emulator (and the know how) to fire off TSO batch jobs, edit data sets, copy data sets, inspect job failures – the list goes on; and this stuff is really easy to learn and master right? (Okay too much tongue in cheek there). The short of it, for mainframe developers, this is probably one of the toughest tasks asked of a software developer to become an expert at.

Luckily, there is an easier way and it can easily be installed alongside your NaturalONE IDE. Excitingly, this also is something that would potentially eliminate the need for any ‘green screen’ interacting at all – the final piece of the puzzle for ensnaring new recruits and not letting them run for the hills.

You too can simplify your tool suite!

I have written an example page to help with installing and showing some of the plugin features: https://mrnaturalone.wordpress.com/portfolio/ex2-z-os-explorer-plugin-naturalone-eclipse/

Batman And Superman Meme - Imgflip

Yeah but it can’t do everything – That’s true (neither could Superman), but for the most routine of tasks, it can do this with ease, and i’m sure with time, much like NaturalONE, this plugin will improve, driven by consumer feedback and vendor innovation. So give it a go (if your site has to prerequisites) and reduce your screen switching once and for all!

Next time on Mr Natural One…

All ‘are’ bored….

FINALLY, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, let’s start exploring our IDE – NaturalONE – I some starting rations, no doubt faithful reader, you’ll have some ammo.

I’ll be sharing my insights and tips for using this excellent tool for all your work (with the add on of the above plugin, I no longer need to see a green-screen at all anymore, farewell faithful friend {until the next emergency on call incident at 2am}).

And yes, now I have (for now) a little more spare time, XeNat will ramp up for use and distribution shortly (actually we’ve got it creating N2O production jobs for deployment, which is excellent!).

Stay safe, keep coding – Mr Natural One.