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October 2003

PIR Group enjoins a jump

Who let the infidels in the temple? At a booth in one of the back aisles of the 2003 HP World in Atlanta, ran an IBM AS/400. Yes, an AS/400, right next to an HP 3000. And tending then both were representatives of Illinois-based PIR Group.

PIR offers COBOL KeePIR, an automated conversion utility that converts HP 3000 COBOL to native mode iSeries AS/400 ILE COBOL. Why would anyone think this product would draw any interest at an HP 9000/3000 user group meeting? “Many customers are upset with how HP handled the discontinuation of the HP 3000 and will not consider purchasing HP products in the future,” said Christian Schneider, a senior account manager for PIR. “The iSeries has over 300,000 installs and is very similar to the e3000 in structure and costs. The animosity toward HP is out there, and we have people coming by to talk.”

PIR feels that the AS/400 is a close enough environment that many sites can convert from one to the other without the tedious need to retrain users. One can create similar screens that will be so similar to the original screens that end users won’t balk or have a lengthy learning curve to get going on the new system.

COBOL KeePIR features a utility that converts programs from HP COBOL to AS/400 native ILE/COBOL. The utility allows for batch or on-line conversion of applications and it allows for copy libraries and INCLUDE code to retain the same member name identity. Nested copylib entries and INCLUDEs are supported up to 10 levels, the same as in HP COBOL. The HP naming conventions are converted and mapped to AS/400 naming standards. Some code will require pre- and post-conversion “tweaking,” — nearly every solution of this kind does — but PIR offers support for these situations.

VPlus forms are converted to the AS/400 Native Display files, and COBOL screen handlers and VPlus field names and keywords are retained. Field logic is retained within the screen handler and function keys. Cursor placement and movements and screen field attributes are converted so that the look and feel of each screen is preserved to minimize end user confusion. At that back booth, a program ran side by side, apparently successfully converted.

Data is important, too. IMAGE databases are converted to DB2/400 file formats with DDSs generated based upon the original IMAGE database descriptions. All intrinsics are converted to their AS/400 counterparts.

PIR jumped into a market that had an opening. From the looks of the traffic at the booth, many people are now considering their own jump to IBM.

— Steve Hammond


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