A week’s work experience at Micro Focus HQ

Student Matt Hudson reports back on a week’s work experience with Micro Focus at their Berkshire Headquarters in August 2016.

The Arrival

My week at Micro Focus started off with me looking upon a smallish office from the visitor’s carpark.

“Well there’s only a few parking spaces, there can’t be too many people working here…” I said to myself. Turns out I was wrong.

Upon entering the building I soon found out that looks can be deceiving; the Micro Focus HQ is quite like a TARDIS. Bigger on the inside and shaped like one too. The atrium is a sight to behold, 3 floors of office space, kitchens and meeting rooms. The centre of the building is large enough to hold several sofas, chairs, tables and a large, upside down elephant (of course).

ellie

I spent the morning with Customer Care, looking at the ins, outs and joys of customer service. This was followed by an afternoon with Tim overviewing the International Go-To-Market Strategy Organisation (as easy to get my head around as it is to say this department name with a mouthful of crisps).

Off Site

Despite the size of the main site, it’s overflowing with busy people and space is at a premium, meaning the Recruitment team for Micro Focus are based in a small office in an industrial unit at River Park, which is where I spent my second day. Here I joined in the task of recruiting new employees to Micro Focus via the use of countless emails and interviews.

I also attempted a personality assessment given to these new employees in which I found out I was quite unstable, contrary to what I’d thought of myself beforehand. I won’t take the results to heart.

Virtual Insanity

On my third day here, I was introduced to the concept of Virtual Machines over at Development. It sounds crazy but in short, it turns out we can split up computers into lots of smaller computers. I was given a tour of the large and super-powerful computer behind Development’s virtual machines which allows them to run any version of an Operating System on their computers to allow them to test different versions of software.

In the afternoon, I took a look at Pivot tables which are a neat little thing on Excel, they give the people in Sales a nice visualisation of data. One interesting thing I thing I found out was how easily data can be manipulated by graphs and charts; a bump on a line graph can become a mountain just by changing the scale of the axis!

Hard drives are not an easy business

Day four at Micro Focus gave me a useful insight into the world of IT support. Much of my time there was spent pondering over a laptop whose hard drive had corrupted. After hours of work the IT team managed to revive the machine (although little of the original laptop was left).

Tweet Machine

My last day here was spent with Mark in Social Media Marketing. I’ve been able to write this blog about my time here, while also putting my #skills to the #test by churning out Micro Focus related tweets (the record for a work experience student is 87 apparently, I’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of beating it).

To conclude

So after going round most of the departments here I’ve gained a good insight into the world of office jobs. It’s been exhausting due to the amount of information I’ve had to take in but very enjoyable nonetheless! Thanks to everyone who tolerated me being around, now time to get back to Twitter. #getonwithit…

Matt.

(This is me at an Airshow – not at Micro Focus!)

Matt

Word up – Micro Focus and Project Read

Being able to read this blog isn’t a given. The ProLiteracy group believe up to 29% of all US adults over 16 only read at an eighth grade level. Digital Marketing Director Emily Evangelista talks about a fulfilling CSR give-back day. Read on:

Being able to read this blog isn’t a given. The ProLiteracy group believe up to 29% of all US adults over 16 only read at an eighth grade level.

Let’s read right

As with many national problems, help lies at a local level and there’s some great grassroots work out there. Perhaps that’s why Micro Focus Project Manager Stephanie Leavitt, a long-time volunteer with Project Read nominated them to benefit from the Micro Focus Corporate Social Responsibility program. We align our charitable giving with local projects – and this was a great example.

This Utah-based initiative focuses exclusively on adult literacy and numeracy, two skills most of us take for granted. Literacy is writing a résumé and communicating online, pre-requisites of getting a job and supporting families. Adult literacy issues cost the US economy around $225bn every year.

It’s also a simple pleasure that the 36 million adults who read like the average 3rd grader all miss out on. No Catcher in the Rye, or any of my fave books, such as The Anarchist Cookbook. Insert your favorite.

PRteam

We helped!

So our Provo office was happy to swing in behind Project Read by donating books and school supplies. More than 50 people helped to collect more than 148 books, lots of supplies as well as a cash donation of more than $2700, which Micro Focus happily matched.

PRphoto2

Great work, guys!

Emily Evangelista

Director of Digital Marketing

Emily

 

 

 

Doing it for the kids – work experience at Micro Focus

Micro Focus has been hosting work experience students in the Newbury HQ since 2010. Sue Lamb from HR looks back over this program and blogs about it’s successes. What do the students learn? What does Micro Focus get back in return? All is revealed in her blog – read on.

As the old saying goes, ‘experience is what you get just after you need it’. While that idiom works for life in general, it need not be the case for students looking to enter the world of work.

Because as our efforts to support those concerned about a future development skills shortfall is proving, any organization who wants to succeed in the future must capture the interest of the next generation of talent today.

Train to gain

Micro Focus understands the importance training and personal development to future success and is simultaneously supporting our customers’ and our own growth strategies.

We are helping to fill the COBOL development pipeline through our Academic Program and our work experience program has been encouraging at least two work experience students through the doors of our HQ in Newbury, Berkshire, every year since 2010.

Our visitors are usually Year 15 students from schools all over the county. While some are drawn from through the school using Education Business Partnerships, other students have parents already working at Micro Focus. Clearly, we must be doing something right!

The recruitment process is straightforward enough – we email every department confirming the opportunity to offer a willing student a working insight into the world of work in general and technology in particular.

EllieBlog1

The where and the what…

Every student visits Micro Focus for a preliminary chat and a look around the offices as a ‘taster’ session. It’s a great opportunity to see what other members of staff wear – a major consideration for students, naturally – to make them feel at home and meet Kiruba. It is also a great chance for us to ask them a few questions:

  • What interests do they have outside school?
  • What GCSEs are they taking in school?
  • What do you want to do in the future?
  • Which departments would they prefer to experience?

We will then prepare a schedule and a list of contact names for the week and send it with a welcome email to the student. Once they have completed the week we use feedback from managers to complete their ‘record of achievement’.

EllieBlog3

The popularity of social media, blogging and other contemporary platforms means that the marketing department is always a popular choice. It’s not every job that actively encourages people to sit on Twitter all day!

While others choose a different path – everyone benefits from the experience. As Patrick Nield, our most recent guest explains, “It was a fantastic week – much more fun than school!”

IMG-20150703-00692

Doing it for the kids

To Micro Focus, work experience is a chance to put a human face on our corporate social responsibility work and wonderful opportunity for local students to get some insight and understanding of our work by doing ‘real’ tasks and duties.

After all, our company ethos is all about ‘bridging the old with the new’ – and that applies to us, too!

SueLamb

 

Trying different ways to make a difference to the days

Work Experience student Patrick Nield spent a week with different departments in the Newbury Headquarters. But what did he learn, who did he meet and was it better than school? Read on to find out.

Day 1 at Micro Focus: Exploring the server room

My day started with a talk from Oliver on all the products and different packages Micro Focus sells. He went on to explain how services have increased in popularity due to the recent merger with Attachmate. Afterwards, Oliver and I met Rachael who took me through Pivotal CRM for the first time. She taught me how to obtain different information from a set of data using pivot tables.

Later that day I spent some time with David and the developers, where I learned how the product managers manage them and how they would meet their deadlines. Then a different David showed me the online to-do list which he created with some of his team to track progress.

I was shown around the server rooms and learned what each server does before Richard showed me how Micro Focus’ software products are tested. I was even allowed to help install and test one of the products myself – wow!

IMG-20150703-00691

Day 2 at Micro Focus: The elephant in the room?

Today I began in account payable with Carrie who showed me how to sign-off payments. When Carrie had finished on the payment sign off I worked with my Mum for a bit who does actually do quite of lot of work here much to my surprise!I then helped Stephanie who started me on the working on fuel cards.

After that I spent my afternoon in operations with David, who took me on a tour around the building to places many people wouldn’t know existed. For example, there’s a room above the third floor where the air conditioning is controlled and there’s an entrance to the top of the atrium. David showed me photos of the installation of the elephant in the main atrium, and when the glass was repaired.

micro-focus-office

Day 3 at Micro Focus: What’s in the safe?

I started off today in accounts receivable which is where payments from Micro Focus customers are processed.

In the afternoon I went to customer care. This department helps Micro Focus customers across the world and the team can speak many different languages including French, Italian and German.

I then moved on to HR where I leaned about the various forms and regulations that Micro Focus needs to deal with when a new person joins. I helped fill-out some of the forms which were then placed in an enormous safe.

Day 4: Putting my tech skills to the test at Micro Focus

I really enjoyed today. I spent it talking about computers with like-minded people! This is what I’m most passionate about and the Micro Focus IT team are a really friendly bunch. I helped mend some phones which were needed for new starters to the company.

IMG-20150703-00690

Day 5 at Micro Focus: The final task

I’d been really looking forward to my final day with marketing and social media department, but wasn’t quite sure what I would be tasked with. The other departments’ names made my work easier to predict. Marketing and social media covers such a wide range of topics I really could have been given anything to do.  First of all Mark talked me through Digital Marketing before I started on my blog and Tweeting

The main task was to write this blog which is apparently going to be published on the Corporate blog website. I am also trying to write as many tweets as I can to promote Micro Focus. The record I have to beat is 87. I fell slightly short of the target but I did spend an hour with Derek who explained how COBOL and Mainframe technology still powers the world’s IT.

It was a fantastic week – much more fun than school! Thanks to everyone who spent time with me…..

IMG-20150703-00692


Innuendo Bingo? It’s only the great Belfast Bake-Off!

Micro Focus COBOL Inside Sales Rep Daniel Grant talks us through the latest greatest Belfast Bake Off on Friday 26th June. But can he avoid a double-entendre or two? Read on to find out.

 “Think palmier, think lattice, think pin-wheel. But mainly, think massive horn.”

Summer diets were put on hold for a few hours on Friday June 26th in Belfast as a bakery bonanza took over at the Micro Focus office. Staff from sales, support and maintenance renewals brought in a selection of moreish home-made cakes, buns, biscuits and desserts with the sole aim of raising some much needed money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Anne Marie, Catia, and Tommasso
Anne Marie, Catia, and Tommasso

Host Connectivity Sales Manager Jamie Shilliday was the week’s Star Baker with two scrumptious sponges he whipped up from scratch without any assistance from his girlfriend. Both of his delectable creations were cleared within minutes!

One of Jaimie's cakes! Wow!
One of Jaimie’s cakes! Wow!

There wasn’t a soggy bottom in sight (well… on the cake front…) as everyone donated generously to help others while stuffing their faces with delicious cupcakes and home baked delights.

Julio with cake

“Where’s my custard? Oh no!”

My own batches of lemon, chocolate chip and almond biscuits went down a treat. Most of the office graciously decided that they prefer them a bit more well-done than normal.

The bake sale was a spectacular success and we are already making excuses to have another as part of our ongoing commitment to raise charity funds. Thanks to everyone who helped us raise a splendid £138 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Money that will go a long way to help improve the lives of people living with cancer in the UK.

Jaimie's Lemon Drizzle - moist!
Jaimie’s Lemon Drizzle – moist!

 “On this occasion style and substance may come into play again.”

Daniel Grant

 

 

Why I’m running for their lives

‘Micro Focus takes Corporate Social Responsibility and charity work extremely seriously from the grass roots right up to Senior Management’ says Gemma Cuff. ‘It’s fantastic to support amazing trailblazing women doing amazing things for the world. Grace Hopper would be very proud that we embrace her mantra ‘If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission’.

When is a run, not a run? When it’s a valuable opportunity to raise awareness of women’s empowerment where it is in dangerously short supply. That’s the principle behind Run Across Congo, a vehicle for shining light, attention and focus on the region.

Why run?

I will be running on behalf of OTG, a community-based non-profit organisation. They may be small but their projects have a global reach – they certainly touched me!

We are taking an all women’s running team to Congo to support gender equality and women’s empowerment. The participants are runners, rather than athletes; they come from all over the area and are driven by their own motivations.

I was keen to support Fair Trade, go beyond the brand to address some of the issues that underpin the charity and make their work necessary. There’s more on this HERE. 

Why here?

This is an area in need of good news as much as a gesture. The region is recovering from a civil war that claimed over five million lives. The reported statistics – and ‘reported’ is the key word, here – for rape victims are around 70%, with many repeat victims.

If truth is the first casualty of war then in this conflict, women must be a pretty close second. War tactics and guerilla warfare techniques have reduced them to objects. Many, if not every mother, sister, daughter or wife has been the victim of sexual violence. It’s not easy for anyone – the average annual income is $400 p.a. and the majority of the population falls at or below the poverty level.

Meryl Marsh 2

Fighting back

But it is the personal stories that are most illustrative of the impact of the conflict. Every single person has lost at least one close family member. Despite this – or perhaps because of this – these communities are showing obduracy and this resilience is driving a significant resurgence in the coffee farming sector. This can all be built upon. It may not be much but in a country that has nothing, it represents a something.

Our efforts are addressing three key priorities:

  • Immediate medical care and reconstructive surgery for sexual violence victims
  • Monthly support for the widowed families of murdered rangers in Virunga National Park and
  • Gender Action Learning System (GALS), a community and family-focused scheme that develops the long-term business and family planning that retains sustainable farming practices and deliver reliable income.

We’re all self-funding; every dollar we raise directly supports the program work to ensure maximum impact. We all have individual campaigns and targets – check out mine HERE.

You can help

And you don’t have to run a step. Make your donations at runacrosscongo.org. We started raising funds last year and will continue up to, during and after the run. The program work will be ongoing for years. Once OTG starts a project, they remain committed to it for long-term development.

For me, I will keep running to the end. It’s not much, but as the proud people of the DRC will tell you, when you have nothing, a something is a great start.

Meryl Marsh 3

Schools (almost) out for Summer! My work experience with Micro Focus

Food for thought

Being a teenager, working in an office is portrayed as a job with minimal excitement or thrill. My experience is quite the contrary. I have been lucky enough to spend a week working in one and seeing the do’s and don’ts of the job. What I’ve noticed is there is always something to do, nobody is ever left without a job and they are all doing it to make their business thrive. I’m sure at the end of the week I’m going to be exhausted after doing just a fraction of work that they get through!

My first impression of the office had to be, wow there are a lot of computers in here. My second was probably, yay there’s free Cokes. Then noticing that the work here is actually fun, with spreadsheets, posters, blogs – and looking after the elephant of course.

EllieBlog1

The thing I love most about this office, so far, is just that everyone is so friendly and gets on well together. Just like an office family. The little inside jokes and banter they have, like trying to steal Stuart’s biscuits. But they wouldn’t dare do that! I have to admit I’m excited for the coming week – I can see that it’s going to be brilliant!

Today I have found to be getting used to the office and how everything works. I like the independence and how I have to act mature in front of adults who  love what they do. So far, I would be ecstatic to have this job when I’m older, let’s hope maybe I do!

Temporarily I have my own office laptop, badge and desk…they are definitely treating me well.

Day 2

As you can see below I have already made my desk a mess but I have no time to clean it. This morning I had a meeting with Derek who really opened my eyes to what this business is all about and the work they have to do here, it’s actually very interesting. I FINALLY KNOW WHAT COBOL MEANS:)!!

EllieBlog3

Also this morning I met with the executives who gave me the all the clear for choosing the new name for the company newspaper. I narrowed 60 possible names down to 10 and now have to count up the 1200 employee votes to figure out the winner. Watch this space! I also created a new user manual for the Borland Software website and uploaded a brochure to slideshare about Mainframe solutions and Visual COBOL.ellie4

I also met with John today to discuss the whole Twitter aspect of the business, he gave me insight of what they really mean and showed me where to find the best information to put in my Tweets.

Day 3

We had a conference call with an American lady, Jackie to discuss the Federal Government website which was really interesting, listening about how others talk about the company from other parts of the world and how they manage to talk to interested parties and get their messages across.

In the afternoon we drove to Basingstoke to meet up with a brilliant Marketing agency – called the Purple Agency. I met up with Grace who told me how they manage their projects before a creative director called Alan set me a creative task. I had to pretend that aliens from a desert planet had arrived and were scared of trees! I needed to let them know let them know that trees couldn’t move and weren’t dangerous. I was great fun and challenging – obviously they couldn’t talk in english so I drew them pictures.

Over and out…..

I think the main question I’m going to have to answer from doing work experience here is if I would want to do it again? The answer right now is 100% YES!

Although I’m still trying to figure out this business and what they’re all about, I understand loads more than I did about business software and by the end of my last day I will hopefully know it all.

This week has had its ups and downs, the early mornings are not cool but I like the feeling of having a real job and a real responsibility. So far the free drinks are brilliant, the people are hilarious and I love it here. I understand more about computers, and what they are doing here as a business.

I would definitely come back. It’s been a fascinating experience and I’ve learnt loads about business in 5 days flat.

EllieMac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Language school: getting COBOL back in the classroom

This blog deconstructs the misconceptions around COBOL and addresses the ‘University Challenge’ of getting COBOL on the curriculum. The Micro Focus Academic Program is on a mission to create enough COBOL-savvy developers and programmers to serve the big businesses that still use COBOL to drive 70% of all business data processing.

This blog deconstructs the misconceptions around COBOL and addresses the ‘University Challenge’ of getting COBOL on the curriculum. The Micro Focus Academic Program is on a mission to create enough COBOL-savvy developers and programmers to serve the big businesses that still use COBOL to drive 70% of all business data processing.

Mali principii malus finis. This Latin proverb translates as ‘bad beginnings lead to bad results’ and students looking for careers in development or programming will already be thinking along these lines. Because choosing the wrong language will put them on a road to nowhere. And unfortunately for COBOL, many students regard it as irrelevant as Classical Latin.

Indeed, some people seem surprised that COBOL is still being written at all. COBOL’s longevity is both its biggest asset and its worst enemy. ‘Why’ the student will doubtless be thinking, ‘should I invest my time learning a language from the late 1950’s when I could be studying newer, more popular languages like Java, C# or .NET?’

As our infographic illustrates, 65% of students at UK colleges and universities currently have this opinion and with only 5% of our academic institutions producing more than 30 COBOL developers every year, clearly the concern about ‘bad beginnings’ goes further up the chain. But where does this misconception about COBOL come from?

COBOL Infographic
COBOL Infographic

Introduction: The Forgotten Technology?

Even if the majority of students – at least 65% – think COBOL is dead and outdated, this is simply not true. COBOL is the lifeblood of big business and supports the majority of major business transactions globally. COBOL is everywhere, every day – it’s just that people don’t realise it. People reading the IT press, or research technology, are being bombarded by news of all manner of innovative technology. Much of it new, exciting and set to change the way we use technology forever. Meanwhile, the tried and trusted tech that already provides valuable business services is all but hidden from view.

cobol-infographic-sml

And the result? Little or no perception of COBOL’s importance. Indifference, apathy even. COBOL? Oh yeah… um… is that still going? See here how students at UCL saw it.

A possible reason for this misconception could be the current lack of COBOL adoption in the classroom. Because while 58% of universities believe COBOL should be on their curriculum, only one in four institutions actually teach it. And this matters. Because COBOL makes up 240 billion of the estimated 310 billion lines of code in place globally and with five billion new lines of COBOL being developed annually, how will the current graduate output support the applications we rely on every day? With COBOL not being taught at sustainable levels, this may be why students and aspiring developers are focusing their attention elsewhere. What can be done to change this?

The perception challenge

The problem goes beyond the academic environment. There’s an industry perception that COBOL is tied into the days of ZX81, green screen terminals and clunky keystrokes. In a world obsessed with what is coming next, the move to mobile, must-have gadgets and the like, anything associated with the noughties – let alone the 1950’s, when COBOL first came to prominence – is going to suffer by association. The perception of the COBOL programmer is linked with the systems they help to maintain. It’s not the career that any would-be programmer wants for themselves. So, what can be done to close the gap between the perception and reality?

Step forward the Micro Focus Academic Program

Micro Focus has invested in an Academic Program to get COBOL back in the classroom and support our universities, businesses and students.  We have partnered with more than 300 universities in more than 20 countries, including the University of Maryland, Texas A&M, Iowa State and HEC Paris. We have given them the tools and technologies they need to help create the next generation of COBOL developers. Students and aspiring developers have been offered the Micro Focus Visual COBOL Personal Edition to help them fine-tune their skills and gain experience. Working with their preferred IDE, they can take full advantage of the new capabilities available within this innovative development environment and make the best of their studies. But why should they learn COBOL?

Because COBOL is still relevant and that isn’t going to change. COBOL still drives 70% of all business transaction processing systems. It has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. For example, most Americans will interact with a COBOL program 13 times a day. Driving to work, doing the shopping, getting cash from an ATM, using your smartphone, all involve interacting with COBOL. It works both on a domestic level and in the marketplace, supporting 90% of Fortune 500 companies. Yet young people don’t know that it’s there. Is this why students are not embracing COBOL in their studies?

Visual COBOL is COBOL for the future generation. It bridges the gap between long-established applications and future innovation by re-energizing enterprise COBOL applications. It also addresses a number of key business challenges, including the perceived shortfall in programming talent, while improving productivity, lowering costs and taking core applications into the future. Recent initiatives, including the COBOL Code Contest Challenge, have helped to introduce COBOL to a younger audience and position it as a contemporary language worth learning.

Conclusion – resetting perceptions

A belief system born of ignorance is unfortunate but it is easily fixed by knowledge. Students, academia and the wider industry can benefit from the academic programs and technology investment being made by Micro Focus to support the creation of the next generation of COBOL developers.

We are doing all this because we believe that COBOL is time-proven technology with one foot in the future. To maintain the momentum we’ll need to get the next generation of developers and programmers on board – and give them the means to forge an exciting career in COBOL. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Or Aut viam inveniam aut faciam, to quote a language that hasn’t evolved nearly as well…!

To learn more about the Micro Focus Academic Program and get the latest news and updates on the Micro Focus Academic Program follow this link

Top 10 Reasons to Learn COBOL

What is the first thing which springs to mind when you think of COBOL? Did you know that 200 times more transactions are processed daily by COBOL business applications than there are Google and You Tube searches made? COBOL is not about to drop dead – it still dominates the business language world. Here are our top ten reasons for learning COBOL.

A legendary language

What is the first thing which springs to mind when you think of COBOL? Did you know that 200 times more transactions are processed daily by COBOL business applications than there are Google and You Tube searches made? COBOL is not about to drop dead – it still dominates the business language world. Here are our top ten reasons for learning COBOL.

1. COBOL is easy!

Learning COBOL isn’t like learning a completely new language: it’s English! It consists of English-like structural components such as verbs, clauses and sentences. Its readability means that you can understand what a program is doing without having to learn a whole new syntax.

To demonstrate how straightforward it is, here is an example of the “Hello world” program in COBOL:

Yes, that really is all you need to write to run this program. Did I hear someone say COBOL is verbose?

2. You can run it anywhere you like

COBOL has been ported to virtually every hardware platform. Programs written in this “write once, run anywhere” language enables businesses to reuse COBOL applications that were written decades ago on new platforms like .NET or JVM. The language itself is portable with data types and structures which enable developers to write applications that can be ported to new platforms with minimal or no change. COBOL has been able to adapt to change: each new enterprise platform which emerges has had COBOL applications deployed there.

3. It will work tomorrow as well as it does today

Businesses already using COBOL are likely to continue to use COBOL rather than replace it. Replacing COBOL would be expensive – due to its enormous scale, time-consuming and risky, as well as being completely unnecessary. The year 2000 problem demonstrated that COBOL applications are cheaper to fix than applications written in more recent languages.

4. It gets the numbers right!

It is no surprise that the financial sector is underpinned by COBOL systems: banking, insurance, fund management, pension systems, payroll and credit cards, all depend on COBOL. COBOL’s numeric processing functions make it the perfect choice for applications where the tiniest fractional rounding error can make a crucial difference. It delivers arithmetic accuracy to 31 digits, making it the favourable choice for financial software.

5. You can use it with your favourite IDE

There’s no need to worry about learning a new toolset. You can develop COBOL applications using Visual Studio or Eclipse. These IDEs bring all the great productivity aids you use today

such as IntelliSense and content assist, snippets, UI design tools and more, so coding in COBOL isn’t a chore.

6. You can get to your data fast

Whilst COBOL can process data from a variety of sources including just about any Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), it also provides direct language support for data files, outperforming database processing by miles. COBOL systems use indexed data files which maintain internal B-tree structures (meaning that speed and efficiency are two important features), providing rapid access to data even when data stores run into terabytes.

7. You don’t need to spend hours on documentation

COBOL is self-documenting. The readability of COBOL code and its rigid hierarchical structure make COBOL easy to read and maintain. When was the last time you read a comment, found that it had no relation to the code and spent the next half an hour trying to make sense of the code and the comment? This happens all too frequently as a result of general application maintenance. Code changes but comments are sometimes forgotten.

With a language that doesn’t need the same level of commenting as others, maintaining someone else’s COBOL code shouldn’t leave you tearing your hair out in frustration.

8. It’s fast!

COBOL has 50 years of optimizations under its belt, so it knows what it’s doing when it comes to data processing. Micro Focus’s COBOL “code generator” uses target platform technology to deliver maximum performance, as well as enabling the creation of fully portable and executable code.

But it’s not just the generator that maximizes performance. Most COBOL code is also procedural, not object-oriented, so its old-school straight line performance can give it a real edge over other languages.

9. It integrates with everything

COBOL systems have retained business value by integrating with new technology. For example, COBOL programs can be called by most other computer languages, deployed in Java application servers, provide backend Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) logic, read or write XML directly, or work with Unicode strings. By combining your new found COBOL skills with systems you know today, you can enhance existing COBOL applications in the web, mobile and Cloud.

10. COBOL is everywhere!

We are surrounded by COBOL: it runs over 70% of the world’s business transactions. On codinghorror.com, Jeff Atwood comments, “the vast majority of us will use COBOL in one form or another as part of our daily existence.” As senior programmers retire, they must be replaced with a new generation of COBOL programmers, or the business world is likely to collapse completely. It makes sense to replenish the supply of COBOL programmers by training new ones.

 

Bridging skills gap with Visual COBOL

As the COBOL developer cooking pot boils dry due to retiring veterans, there is likely to be an increase in demand for COBOL developers. Learning COBOL could therefore make you highly desirable.

Micro Focus Visual COBOL enables COBOL teams to work on the same projects as the Java or C# developers, by working alongside each other. It also provides an immediately-available learning environment to enable other programmers to pick up sparse COBOL skills.

Micro Focus Visual COBOL Personal Edition enables developers and aspiring developers to learn and use COBOL for free. See for yourself how far COBOL has advanced: experience its robust features and innovate with the latest technologies: http://www.microfocus.com/product-trials/visual-cobol/personal-edition-trial/vcpe-trial.aspx

If you think this has inspired you, check out how much it inspired Dave the developer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEGm0-H6ma0