Food distributors Curtze were faced with the challenge of providing web and mobile applications for its customers, which were already available through its industry rivals in their highly competitive market space.
Their specialist division, SalesPro Technologies, desired to preserve their existing investment in COBOL centric business rules while exploiting more modern application interfaces to deliver both agile and interactive solutions to their customers. However, with thousands of existing programs and hundreds of thousands of lines of application code to modernize, they were finding it a very formidable challenge.
Curtze had a rich heritage in the food service industry and a significant investment in its technology. But with the mobile revolution, the need to deliver web and mobile-based applications was becoming more and more apparent.
Anthony Darden, Vice President of SalesPro Technologies, explains: “We needed a solution that would preserve the many years of proven COBOL logic running our business but also provide a flexible architecture that allowed freedom for user interface development and future technology adoption.” The company turned to Micro Focus to provide that solution and the key to the solution was Micro Focus’ COBOL environment for developing and deploying Web Services. This technology allows the provision of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).
Darden immediately recognized the potential of this technology. “We couldn’t avoid the latest trends in the marketplace. So when Micro Focus announced Xcentrisity® Business Information Server (XBIS) support for its extend® product line which provided rich tools for web and mobile development and a platform for future migration to its Visual COBOL® product, we were anxious to get started as fast as possible. It was a no-brainer. A few months ago we couldn’t compete with other companies who offered mobile applications – now we can outperform them. With the performance and strength of the back-end COBOL systems to underpin our new web applications and mobile interfaces we are more than ready to innovate for the future.”
The application infrastructure at Curtze utilizes Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2003, and Open Server 5 (UNIX), all running in a virtual server farm, leveraging VMWare. Application development infrastructure is running Windows 7. To support its user interface development efforts, Curtze acquired Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 Professional. Now using the combination of Micro Focus Xcentrisity® BIS and Microsoft tools, Curtze has the freedom to embrace any UI technology required for future business initiatives. Additionally, the company’s heavy investment in COBOL-based systems was preserved, and re-purposed for new application innovation.
Darden says: “Our users typically have a smart phone of some kind and frequently ask about tablet compatibility, so this new versatility online has been positively received. Usability has grown tenfold thanks to much improved and modernized UI design, with customers – and especially new and younger users – liking the fresh new looks. Scalability has also improved thanks in part to building applications using both Xcentrisity® BIS and Microsoft IIS, two platforms where scalability is second nature.”