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Mainframe Brain Drain? Not In Heart Of Texas
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Madhava verma dantuluri
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Madhava verma dantuluri,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2014 | 12:52:35 AM
Good
This is a good refresh and wonder where its heading.
Pooua
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Pooua,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2014 | 6:40:34 PM
Re: Everything old is new again
Well, that's what I hear, though I don't think of it in the same category as programming. I did take a class in Information Storage and Management (using EMC's textbook), and I've taken a class in SQL. I'd like to get into this area, but I'm having a tough time getting my foot in the door. I've heard of Nosql, Hadoop and others, but I haven't had the chance to learn them. I recently started a free, online course from Microsoft on their Hyper-V software.
anon2757656426
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anon2757656426,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2014 | 2:51:47 PM
COBOL Is More Relevant Today Than You Think
I work for a company that specializes in COBOL technologies, and it never ceases to amaze me of the people who profess to be IT professionals, how little they know of what really goes on in the back-office of most large corporations.

While the advent of the internet and before it client/server computing heralded lots of new languages and technologies for building front-ends, communication layers and services, these for the most part have only been used for new development. The legacy back-office systems where most of today's large corporations perform order processing and financial transactions are still to this day majority COBOL. If you look at statistics you'll see that more than 70% of all business transactions performed each day around the world are processed by COBOL. There is no way you can perform an ATM or point-of-sale transaction these days without touching COBOL somewhere during that transaction.

This is not because these companyies are lazy and simply haven't gotten around to replacing COBOL yet - there are two main reasons. First, these systems are mature and have been highly customized for decades to tailor them to each company's needs. And since they often comprise code bases in hudreds of thousands if not millions of lines of code, and play such a crucial role in company's bottom line, it is both extremely risky and extremely expensive to replace.

The second reason they haven't been replaced is that they work! They are extremely efficient and performant at what they do. As we like to say, COBOL runs very close to the metal. It has no expansive framework umbrella ala Java or .Net, so the code is very performant. Built a web service that can process thousands of transactions a second? Could you scale that to millions of transactions a second? Probably not, but there are COBOL systems that do that every day.

The other reason COBOL got a bad rap through the years is that it was locked away on the mainframe, accessible only through green screen terminals. The mainframe was/is an expensive and proprietary platform. But there are solutions that allow you to take COBOL systems off the mainframe and run them on distributed platforms. Additionally there are plug-ins for both Eclipse and Visual Studio that allows development to be independent of the mainframe as well. Additionally there are COBOL variants today that allow you to code in and interoperate with OO frameworks such as Java and .Net.

So while COBOL has been around a long time, it has not remained static, and is just as relevant today as any other technology within your IT environment.
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Moderator
3/21/2014 | 1:10:27 PM
Re: Everything old is new again
The trend now is 'big data', the cloud,nosql, mobile app dev. Overseas can do html,java cheap so you can't compete.

They need only senior programmers 4 C,C++,VB LOL :). There is a shortage so they push to import more workers.
Pooua
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Pooua,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2014 | 11:40:19 AM
Re: Everything old is new again
Yes, the IT world is all about trends, and it seems I'm always behind the curve. I've never seen a time when COBOL was the hot language (I came along too late for that), but I've watched as C, C++, Visual Basic and now Java have been the in-demand languages. I hesitated to invest much effort into Java for years, because I had seen how fickle employers are. 

Incidentally, I started out with HTML 3.0 in 1996, and I just completed a class last year in HTML 5 with CSS 3. That was interesting. I graduated with two computer degrees (Computer Science and Computer Systems) last year, and now I've been unemployed for several months. I'm not impressed with IT's career opportunities. 
Pooua
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Pooua,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2014 | 11:29:30 AM
Pardon My Incredulity... COBOL?
I took COBOL and JCL with VSAM in 1991. At the time, my junior college had an IBM mainframe (I think it was a 390), and our labs were conducted on terminals. My class took a tour of the room housing the actual mainframe, where the operator advised us to find a different line of work. She was serious. In the years since then, the school got rid of their mainframe, replaced by networked workstations. 

I did pretty well in those classes--a "B" and an "A"--but I went on to several other programming languages. My favorite was the C programming language, but I've also taken x86 and MIPS Assembly, Pascal, C++ and Java. Although, at one time, about 75% of all business programming was in COBOL, I've rarely seen a request for someone trained in it. About the only thing anyone wants these days is Java programmers. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
3/21/2014 | 1:33:53 AM
JCL
I shuddered when you mentioned JCL.

I had no idea it was still being used to access those mysterious mainframes that everybody knows about but almost nobody talks about any more.

Maybe I just had bad instructors, but when I was introduced to JCL decades ago in college, I just hated it. It seemed like a black art, with no logical explanations available and no readable documentation. Those that were good at it would not share their secrets, and kept all of us fearful and dependent. How different from the modern computer environment, academic or professional, where as long as your head is bloody from banging it on the wall from trying, help always seems to appear. It turned me off of computers for years, until the original IBM PC appeared, for which I was glad to spend thousands of dollars for at the time.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
3/20/2014 | 3:13:00 PM
Re: Everything old is new again
This is interesting. There will obviously be a COBOL market that will pay highly for talent, but it is a very specialized subset. Fortune 500 companies will have to pay for this of course because they are tethered to it.

But I'm not sure that if I were a student today that I would want to concentrate on something like this. 
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Moderator
3/20/2014 | 3:00:33 PM
Re: Everything old is new again
IT world is a bit crazy. You have to catch the trend and make money.

Back then, a few of my friends took only html and got jobs with high salary. A few other took only Java and got hired. (No wonder Java is a mess and so are lots of websites) I stayed in school for 4 years and it surely doesn't pay off.
alexfiles01
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alexfiles01,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2014 | 2:41:28 PM
Everything old is new again
So funny. In the late nineties and early aughts I was told to take COBOL and similarly older languages I'd learned off my resume, as they were no longer relevant. (This and similar advice re-routed my career path quite a bit, btw). Now it seems like they're back. Glad to see COBOL is still useful, and all the best to the students! 

P.S. Students, just be glad you don't have to learn it on punch cards ;-)


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