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COBOL To Java: Knowing The Real Deal In System Conversion

Written byGuest Blogger

February 7, 2012

The Common Business Oriented Language, abbreviated as COBOL, is among the oldest languages used in programming. Created in the late 1950’s, most organizations’ legacy systems are in fact based on COBOL programming. Due to this fact, most companies are finding it hard to update their COBOL systems to reflect changes in regulatory requirements and business needs. The main problem with the COBOL legacy systems is that it is an expensive platform to maintain, especially since the number of programmers that are familiar with COBOL keeps decreasing each year. Furthermore, maintaining large COBOL systems prevents companies from being able to standardize their technology, as modern software is not compatible with these older platforms. Since rewriting the source code by hand is very expensive, most firms are viewing migration from COBOL to Java as a more viable option.

If you’re not entirely convinced to jump on the COBOL to Java bandwagon, you can review the other alternatives available and compare the cost and benefits of each. Two other methods of dealing with the issues presented by legacy system use are re-platforming (“lift and shift”) or modernizing. Re-platforming entails moving an older COBOL application to a modern, server-based COBOL, with tools that make it a bit easier to maintain the code. The drawback, though, is that the firm will continue to incur COBOL maintenance costs and the system still cannot be integrated with modern technologies. Moving from a mainframe in this fashion can save a lot of money, still.

Modernizing entails changing from COBOL to a modern language, such as Java. One approach is translating the old code line by line into the new language, which can be done automatically. However, line by line translation also copies the structure of the old program, and it turns every statement into a function call — not maintainable code by today’s standards. Or, you can modernize using skilled programmers assisted by automated tools, which is what we do to affordably create object-oriented, maintainable code.

The beauty of Java as a programming language is that it can run on practically any operating system platform. COBOL to Java modernization deserves serious consideration by organizations that need to cut costs and maintain their software with . Moving from COBOL to Java would make available cost-effective technologies and enable the organization to develop new support for its business processes. Unlike the relatively small number of experts that are familiar with COBOL, Java is not only popular amongst programmers, but there is a large pool of both senior and freshly trained software engineers who can handle the object oriented code coming from a well done COBOL to Java modernization.

The benefits of moving from COBOL to Java are numerous and contribute directly to the increased efficiency of the organizations who take the plunge. COBOL to Java automation-assisted modernization not only drastically reduces the company’s annual cost of maintaining the system, but it also makes it easier to hire software engineers to work on the system after a COBOL to Java conversion. Development of new applications is also simplified, as adopting the Java standard enables the use of open-source frameworks. COBOL to Java also allows easy integration of other packaged software, which provide options to improve current business processes. Access to these third-party products would have been impossible while relying only on legacy software.

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