COBOL is in the news for all the wrong reasons

As states struggle to process a historic number of unemployment claims, some such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and Kansas are adding hundreds of temporary workers to manually process requests as their ageing systems buckle under the load. Banks inundated with CARES Act claims face a similar yet less public challenge.

In fact, significant portions of our critical infrastructure run on decades old COBOL-based platforms, many of which continue to operate under high volume and uninterrupted.

Understanding the COBOL “black box”

Introduced in 1959, COBOL is considered a “high- level” programming language meaning it is hardware independent. What makes COBOL applications challenging to understand, is they often consist of both “high-level” COBOL language and lines of “low- level” Assembler code, which is not intuitive without a deep understanding of hardware architecture and related processing codes.

Most applications in production today were developed 40 – 50 years ago and periodically modified by teams that have since retired and left a code base that may have limited documentation and is poorly understood by contemporary developers. This situation makes many CIO / CTO reluctant to make changes unless critical issues arise, further antiquating the capabilities delivered by the applications.

A decoder to allow informed decisions

To provide the capabilities demanded in today’s rapidly advancing business environment, some legacy applications will need to be replaced and some may only need to be updated, and knowing the difference requires an understanding of the underlying code structure. We have worked closely with leading computer science academics to develop a proprietary tool to analyze your legacy code and provide:

  • Proprietary line-level COBOL translation
  • Easily readable and understandable, program documentation based on the actual code
  • Detailed program flows to identify dead code and illogical operations
  • Identified opportunities for fixes and strategic enhancements

Armed with this detailed information, teams are able to choose an option appropriate to their situation:

  1. Update and maintain your current COBOL application, applying improvements identified by the source-code analysis, and using the newly created documentation which provides a baseline for and greatly simplifies future enhancements.
  2. Upgrade your COBOL-based application to a modern language, such as C/C++/C#, using our proprietary tools to generate a “clone” of the code base.
  3. Rebuild your application, using the detailed documentation generated by the analysis tools, with contemporary tools such as HTLM5 and Javascript.