Moving Beyond COBOL

April 20th, 2017

Gary Crook, President & CEO

I’ve been involved with COBOL for most of my professional career. It is a language that has many unique characteristics, not all positive. Loved by few and (unfairly) vilified by many, it has persisted because it is extremely good at what it was built for — encapsulating business rules.

Many of you who have experience with the COBOL eco-system will appreciate the quiet reality of the absolute dependence that we all have on it as we proceed through our working day. The rest of you will likely be somewhat perplexed that anyone even uses COBOL today, and no doubt bemused by the bold assertion that your daily life without COBOL would result in unadulterated chaos. Well, despite the many predictions over recent decades of COBOL’s demise, this reality is not going to change anytime soon. That said, it would be remiss of us to not acknowledge the strategic intent of enterprise IT to convert COBOL to Java.

For typically risk-averse enterprise IT organizations, moving beyond COBOL is a tricky proposition. These applications represent the competitive differentiation of the business. They are the operational and transactional backbones of the business. They are the definitive manifestation of “mission-critical”. The thought of rewriting or replacing the high-value trusted business processes embedded in these systems can induce violent shudders of apprehension.

For server-side transaction processing, Java is often (if not already) the strategic platform of choice of enterprise IT – and even in the cloud, many PaaS providers have adopted Java as a supported engine (e.g. Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk, Oracle Cloud, Google App Engine, and yes, even Microsoft’s Azure). Our take on why targeting the Java platform makes so much sense for enterprise IT, comes down to 4 key benefits:

1. The ability to deploy and extend applications on an open/strategic platform that is proven and trusted for high-transaction workloads that demand performance, scalability, reliability, security, and manageability.

2. Consolidation of application infrastructure to a single platform. No need to deal with multiple platforms on multiple operating systems.

3. Strategically positions applications for the cloud. Many enterprises have already made a strategic commitment to the Java platform. It’s a smart move — Java has already established itself as the de facto execution engine for the cloud.

4. Improves the productivity and agility of the development organization by modernizing skills, methodology, and process.