COBOL; this isn’t goodbye.

When I joined Micro Focus seven years ago, so many of my friends, family, and business contacts reacted with “isn’t that the COBOL Company?”, “isn’t COBOL dead?”, or “there’s no future in that ancient software”. Even today, the press around COBOL and Mainframe systems can be less than positive.

So, as I depart for a new adventure, it only seems fitting that I should consolidate my Micro Focus journey and leave you with my Top 5 learnings.

Learning 1 – COBOL is alive and kicking

Many of the world’s most depended upon, business critical applications are written in COBOL. As CIOs, CTOs, and their IT teams consider how to modernise existing applications to keep up with the pace and constant disruption of modern technology, they really have only three options: Should I re-write my application? Too costly and too risky. Should I replace my application with an ‘out-of-the-box’ product? Too risky to lose decades of competitive advantage and IP. Should I re-use? Absolutely. Build on the strength you already have. That’s what 90% of the FTSE 100 do, as well as a wealth of global Enterprise Businesses who want to stay ahead. Read their stories here.

What is COBOL?

Learning 2 – COBOL is modern

No, I’m not joking. COBOL today is not what it used to be. Today’s modern COBOL is far from the days of green screen development consoles and proprietary, locked-in value. Today’s COBOL can be integrated within the most modern of IT stacks. Today’s COBOL can work within SOA or RESTful web services.  Today’s COBOL applications can run in the Cloud or be deployed to mobile devices.  Today’s COBOL can be developed in open environments. Today’s COBOL is agile, it escapes the silos and banishes the barriers with DevOps. COBOL innovates with the times.

Learning 3 – COBOL rocks… and so do its fans

Those of us in the know, know that #COBOLrocks. But I’m so proud to be a part of the most amazing IT community in the industry. COBOL fans are die-hard. COBOL fans pull together. COBOL fans rock too! I’ve been so humbled to get to personally know so many of the industry’s COBOL innovators. Whether that be at SHARE or Micro Focus’ own DevDays.  Why not be a part of it too, and join us at the next DevDay?

Learning 4 – We need to pull together

Educators, employers and die-hard COBOL-ers alike – we need come together to support the future of COBOL. Many IT students and programming undergrads have never even heard of COBOL.  How then can we protect its future if the future isn’t aware?  It’s our social responsibility to promote COBOL’s longevity, to evangelise to future COBOL-ers and the wider programming community, and to provide them with opportunities to learn. Micro Focus has a growing Academic Program which provides students with the opportunities to learn, educators with the tools and resources they need to teach, and employers with the right networks in order to maintain a constant flow of the right skills to support their business needs.

Learning 5 – COBOL is everywhere!

Remember those despondent relatives and friends I mentioned at the beginning? Oh how wrong they were. COBOL really is everywhere.

A world without COBOL doesn’t bear thinking about. My tongue-in-cheek article struck a chord with over 18,000 of you. It’s the lifeblood of enterprise IT.

That’s how I know that this isn’t goodbye.  Because the very next time I’m withdrawing cash from an ATM, booking a holiday, or comparing insurance quotes for my car, I guarantee I’ll be thinking ‘this is powered by COBOL’.

COBOL, we’ll meet again.


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