COmmon Business-Oriented Language, popularly-known as COBOL, has existed for more than 5 decades. Although COBOL is in decline, over half of the business systems that are running today were written in COBOL. COBOL is still the legacy business system programming language for many government agencies and large corporations. COBOL efficiently processes files sequentially for reporting and transaction processing, which is at the heart of many business, financial and administrative systems, and it utilizes the technical aspects of mainframe computers very efficiently.
Although many COBOL systems are being replaced by COTS packages or modernized to Java or .NET, COBOL is still thought of as a reliable computer programming language by:
* government agencies
* military organizations
* large businesses, including finance, banking, and manufacturing; and
* educational institutions
There are a number of reasons why programmers and managers within many different commercial and government organizations remain loyal to COBOL over other computer languages, even today.
1. It just works — it does not suffer from the patch and upgrade frenzy that characterizes many modern programming languages.
2. COBOL is still pretty readable compared to newer programming languages. ‘PERFORM VERIFY-ACCOUNT’ is pretty clear without adding comments to it.
3. COBOL is very portable, and is cross-platform efficient. It may be shifted to various standard hardware and software platforms from different manufacturers with minimum risk.
4. It is supported by two contemporary compilers from IBM and Micro Focus, and COBOL is a very scalable language that is also very secure because most of it runs in the high-security mainframe environment. You don’t read about COBOL security failures in the news, although translating it line by line and running it outside the mainframe is provably high-risk from a security and maintainability standpoint.
However, there are maintainability and cost factors that push organizations to replace their COBOL systems with COTS packages, or translate or rewrite them in another language.
* COBOL programmers are retiring and younger developers don’t want to work in COBOL — and they especially don’t want to work in JOBOL, which is what the Air Force and others have called line-by-line translated COBOL into some other language;
* Most large COBOL systems run on mainframes, and the cash out of pocket operating cost can be 4-7X the cost of delivering the same functionality on a modern platform, particularly when vendors know they have you in their grip and keep escalating license fees;
* COBOL can be hard to integrate with other systems and makes it difficult to incorporate modern frameworks and software — the open source movement has passed it by;
COTS packages force you to adapt to their way of working, and moving to an ERP style COTS package is expensive and full of risk. But you can give your COBOL system a new lease on life, by re-engineering it to modern standards. You can then easily change it and add functionality, update the business process, and do it at 1/10 the cost of a COTS ERP system implementation!
If you want to “get out of COBOL”, ResQSoft offers the best alternative. Unlike what comes out of wholesale line-by-line translation of COBOL to Java or COBOL to C#, your new software from ResQSoft will be maintainable, with unit tests and extensive in-line documentation. And it can be made ADA and Section 508 compliant, with support for users and workers with disabilities. Why would you translate your COBOL and leave disadvantaged workers behind, when ResQSoft can deliver better code faster and at a lower cost?
ResQSoft, Inc. is among the top companies focused on successfully and rapidly developing and re-engineering software code and applications. For quick and top quality legacy modernization assistance, please explore the ResQSoft web site here. If you’d like to see some examples of actual COBOL programs, you can find some VERY simple examples here.