Going mobile, or standing still?

Victims of their own success

Many organizations we speak to are proud of their core business systems that have been built up over the decades. Without which, many say, the organization simply couldn’t function. Critical COBOL App running on some servers; these are the life blood of the business. And they have been for some time.

However, as important as they are today, and as valuable as they have been over time, it is unlikely that it will have been designed for some modern needs, like for example getting accessed from Mobile or Web applications—a common requirement of many apps today. The staggering reality is that the value of these systems is now in question for what are entirely unforeseen reasons.

Reality bytes

Clients have described such requirements. For example, over here we might have a Web App sitting on a Web server running for example HTML, JSP or something similar. To enable business logic and data to be pulled out of and indeed written to this back–‐end system is a complex and very specific software engineering task.

There is establishing the physical link between the two different servers, understanding the COBOL Application itself, and establishing what and where the data inputs and outputs are. There’s the same activity on the HTML Side. And then working together to determine if the data moving from one system to another is to be transformed, and as you can imagine there will be a lot more activity besides.

Lastly there seem to be endless cycles of resource‐hungry testing. It’s a fairly complex and time‐consuming software engineering task.



Even for the most intrepid software teams, the task is onerous at best.

Added to this complexity are the people involved. You can imagine that each node in the interface is likely to require different people with different skill sets who all have to communicate, negotiate and understand each other. That makes this a costly exercise. It takes time. It’s essentially a manual process.

And again…

This isn’t a one-time hit. As time goes on, there will be more requirements on this new facility, all adding to an already-unpleasant-looking IT Infrastructure. More complexity. More points of failure. More resource necessity. More cost.

Make the call

What if you could avoid all this cost and complexity? What if you could reuse what was there, with some smart technology, to avoid all this new work, to avoid unnecessary change, but still “go mobile”?

Micro Focus proposes a solution that, in our example, allows that new interface, in this case HTML, to be created as if it were part of the COBOL application, using modern Integrated Development Environments and Frameworks such as, for example, Visual Studio or Eclipse.

That means you can create interfaces very easily using commonly available tools without having to hard-wire anything. So the HTML becomes directly accessible from and call out to the underlying COBOL application.



Of course – some effort is still needed: COBOL expertise and HTML expertise in this particular case. But fundamentally it needs fewer people, the task will be comparatively simple, and the costs to build the interface and change it in the future will be much lower.

How can this be done? Reusing what you have – your core apps, your strategy for HTML or whatever; the magic ingredient is the smart technology of Visual COBOL acting as the bridge between the two.

Going Mobile?

If the theory sounds ok what about the practice. Any solution that takes COBOL apps to a mobile platform would need to:

  • Use existing COBOL application functionality to deliver a new, mobile service
  • Use modern development tools to build services targeting multiple mobile device platforms
  • Quickly create a server-side COBOL web service
  • Work with HTML-5 design tools to build your new application UI

Good point! Our helpful COBOL to Mobile quick start guide walks through the steps involved and provides practical examples to get technicians up and running. Take a look.

We are all set, thanks

Of course, mobile business is not new, and many organizations have found a way. Perhaps a Java interface, perhaps some web services, or an API layer. Perhaps a bit of HTML5. All perfectly viable solutions. But another layer of complexity, and another set of IT assets that must be maintained, updated, tested, delivered. With different teams, tools and delivery approaches, it might work today but it is likely not to be the most efficient solution.

Being 30% more efficient, and saving money, was a reason some clients chose the Visual COBOL solution. Isn’t it time to make your move?

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