Is COBOL leading you down a dead-end street?

March 16, 2016

So you’ve moved to Micro Focus COBOL, what’s next?

If you’ve moved off the mainframe to Micro Focus COBOL or are considering it, a long-term strategy is needed in order to protect the investment you’ve made in your IT systems.

Let’s say you’ve chosen your “flavor” of Micro Focus COBOL and you’re currently enjoying the enhanced capabilities of COBOL programming, plus a reduction in cost compared to your previous mainframe licenses. You plan to stay in Micro Focus COBOL for at least a decade and that is your long-term strategy.

Fast Forward 5 years later: Frank, your lead COBOL developer retires and you realize that Amy is 2 years away from retirement herself. You now face the problem of the growing COBOL skills gap, while COBOL has more production lines of code than any other language, the amount of new COBOL programmers entering the market is drastically lower than it was 10 years ago.

The reason why it’s important to have a long-term strategy for your Micro Focus COBOL applications is that at the end of the day you still have a COBOL application, which comes with inherent risks and opportunity costs. The best strategy for reducing these costs and risks is to work towards a legacy-free system. Here are a couple of options to consider:

  • Lift&Shift: Using an emulator to run your COBOL applications in a Windows, Linux, or Unix environment. Do you prefer to move your legacy challenge instead of solving it?
  • Re-placement: Packages can be inexpensive and quickly implemented. But have you thought about the costs and time to customize these applications? Your unique selling point? Integration with other applications?
  • Re-write: It’s a long-term process. Do you want to throw away all your decades of investment? Don’t you want to profit from the business knowledge of your staff who have been working for all these years on your strategic business applications?
  • Migration: if you have a system that is complex and has been customized to fit your exact business needs over the past years/decades? This option is the best for preserving the proprietary knowledge of your system and can be done in a shorter timeframe and less expensive than a re-write or re-placement.

If you haven’t yet moved to Micro Focus COBOL, there are options for your current COBOL applications that have a built-in long-term strategy.
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