“The fact that Relativity allowed us to provide read-only access to the application data was important. It gives us the confidence that we can maintain the integrity of the data we are opening up to our customers.”
Geneva Software Co.
At a Glance
- Offer custom reporting options to each customer without additional engineering burden
- Ability to access COBOL application data in real time using a wide variety of software tools such as SAP Crystal Reports
Geneva owns the Quantum suite of accounting, distribution, and manufacturing software modules. It specializes in interfacing the Quantum solution with various disparate external state, county, and corporate solutions to facilitate the flow of information between systems. Quantum is often considered the core system that orchestrates the exchange of information, allocations distributions, and provides the necessary audit trails for organizations to operate smoothly.
Quantum has a rich history of over 30 years. The solution has evolved to meet new customer needs but has always stayed close to its COBOL roots. Geneva’s customers operate in the behavioral and mental healthcare sector and have very different reporting requirements, as Tom Vincent, President at Geneva, explains: “US states have different reporting rules and most of our customers will have quite unique reporting requirements. It would be prohibitive for us to custom-develop reports within our Quantum solution for every single customer. Not in the least because it would present a support problem for us going forward. We wanted to find a way to provide secure access to the COBOL data files within Quantum so that our customers can run their own unique reports.”
Vincent was concerned about opening up the system for reporting purposes but he realized it gives customers a sense of ownership when they can take responsibility for their own reports. Access had to be tightly regulated and secured and he looked for a solution to help with these requirements.
Market research highlighted Micro Focus Relativity as a solution to this issue. Relativity brings the benefits of relational database (RDBMS) technology to COBOL applications that use traditional data files for application data. Relativity presents COBOL data files as a relational data source enabling other software tools to easily access application data. It is compatible with RM/COBOL, Net Express, Server Express and the Visual COBOL product line.
Many Geneva customers use SAP Crystal, a total reporting solution to give them insightful information and help them make better business decisions. Relativity provides an easy integration path with SAP Crystal, and many other RDBMS enabled software tools, while leaving the data file architecture of Quantum unchanged. According to Vincent, secure data access was critical for Geneva: “The fact that Relativity allowed us to provide read-only access to the application data was important. It gives us the confidence that we can maintain the integrity of the data we are opening up to our customers. We can also use Relativity to implement controls around who can access the data so someone responsible for payroll for instance will only be able to access the payroll data. This means the customers’ own IT organization can take full responsibility for data access and its security.
Relativity enables real-time data analytics which is the only way Geneva can meet the different custom reporting needs of their users. It provides a fast and simple approach to data modernization with minimal impact to the existing application architecture.
Relativity is an established solution for Geneva, and support is not often required. However, when it is it often concerns an unusual scenario and Vincent has been impressed by the Micro Focus support expertise: “We never feel alone if there is an issue, Micro Focus is only a phone call away and ready to help. Recently we had a scenario where a customer wanted to move Quantum from an old UNIX system onto a newer Linux system. Quantum doesn’t support Linux but we wanted to give it a try anyway. Micro Focus was a great support, guiding us through the process to make it Linux-compatible. We never could have supported this customer request without the excellent Micro Focus support.”
Relativity has given Geneva a way to provide secure real-time data access for its many customers, as Vincent concludes: “Our customers love that they don’t have to rely on development to build their reports, but instead can run custom reports which help them run their business. It saves time and has given us a real value-add. I also feel very confident in the future of COBOL and the direction Micro Focus is taking. Visual COBOL looks of interest and we will be exploring the opportunities this may bring to us.”