Southern Information Services, Inc.
In business since 1992 – Incorporated in 1995
Located in Marietta, Georgia
For more than two decades, we have been the purveyors of the Advantage System, used by advertising agencies to place and manage their clients’ listings in more than 5100 Yellow Page directories nationwide. In addition to order entry, Advantage provides customized client billing, dealer management, and solicitations as well as specialized reports with demographics integration.
The original core of the Advantage System was developed on a Unisys A-Series mainframe. The programs were coded in COBOL and the data was stored in ISAM files and DMSII databases.
During the early 1990s, we decided to investigate options for moving Advantage off of the mainframe environment. We eventually found a company in Indiana named CCOM, who offered a way to migrate from the Unisys platform onto a personal computer platform running OS/2. Their software emulated certain functions of the Unisys environment – specifically the poll/select communications protocol that was common with Unisys systems. They were also able to recommend various hardware options that would allow us to provide our services to clients at remote locations.
At the same time, we became aware of Micro Focus and we discovered that their COBOL Workbench product was compatible with OS/2. This final piece to the puzzle enabled the migration of the Advantage System off of the mainframe environment. We converted our DMSII databases to ISAM files and refactored our COBOL code – replacing Unisys extensions with those needed to run in the new environment.
Not long after we completed our migration, we were approached by a company (through CCOM) who had also decided to migrate off of their Unisys mainframe. We refactored their COBOL code and helped them through the process.
One of the ongoing challenges we faced during the time that we used the CCOM OS/2 solution was finding good poll/select terminal emulation software for those users who did not use Unisys terminals. During the early days of the Advantage System, users who were not using Unisys terminals were using personal computers running the DOS operating system. We were fortunate to be able to use a DOS terminal emulator created by a colleague of ours on the PCs. Over time, DOS was replaced by Windows as the dominant PC platform, so we partnered with Turbosoft, an emulator vendor located in Australia. We worked closely with them during the process of perfecting the poll/select protocol used in their TTWin product.
Eventually, the Windows Server platform eclipsed the OS/2 platform and we found ourselves deciding to migrate again – this time to Windows. At that time, we also made the decision to break away from the poll/select protocol. We found a magazine article that described how to use Windows API calls to connect a remote Visual Basic client to a Windows Server host. So, we upgraded to Micro Focus’s NetExpress product and began the process of refactoring our COBOL programs to run on a Windows Server as CGI applications. Meanwhile, we also wrote a user-interface program in Visual Basic which took advantage of the information we learned in the magazine article.
Advantage has been hosted on the Windows Server platform for just over fifteen years and during that time the system has scaled up to accommodate hundreds of users and process tens of millions of dollars of advertising yearly. We’ve continually made updates to our client user-interface program, built a Crystal Reports based reporting system and integrated Advantage with SQL Server databases that service client-approval websites.
Services and Solutions we can provide for your company today
Over the years, as new technology applications, systems, and devices are introduced into business ecosystems, we’ve continued to evolve to meet our clients’ needs so that they can keep up and leverage changing technology landscape without losing their years of COBOL assets worth thousand and millions of dollars.
Today, our focus is on helping businesses transform their COBOL applications and data into recurring revenue generating assets. Specifically, we provide COBOL Application and Data Modernization solutions. We help businesses modernize their business and enhance revenue by making their COBOL applications and solutions available to today’s users and different use-cases.
Let’s face it. Today, the way users interact with applications and the way businesses transact have changed. This does not mean that the goldmine of COBOL data has to be recreated from scratch. Instead, we help businesses leverage their COBOL data assets by making them available to customers on Desktop, Web, and Mobile Devices.
Here are the Services and Solutions we can provide for your company:
1) Modernization of COBOL Data:
Modernization and migration of Cobol data to MS Access and RDBMS (i.e. MSSQL, Oracle, etc).
2) Data Migration:
Cleanse, Transform, and Load.
Load COBOL data to other data formats (i.e. XML, JSON, Flat file, DB tables, etc)
3) Data Conversion:
Conversion of Mainframe COBOL application to MircroFocus Windows COBOL.
We can help convert your entire COBOL application from Mainframe to MicroFocus Cobol on Windows
4) Mixed Language Application Programming:
Leave your backend business applications in COBOL but give users front-end Windows Desktop UI or Web-based UI.
5) Custom Software Solutions:
We invite you to come discuss your business specific needs and COBOL system requirements. Let us help bring your COBOL assets and business to the next level.