Old Cobol Never Dies: Tools For Dealing With Legacy Code

Old Cobol programs never seem to die.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

June 6, 2003

2 Min Read

Steve Maysonave started out as a Cobol programmer in 1968. Now, as the CEO of Relativity Technologies Inc., he worries that his company's tool for troubleshooting dubious Cobol code, Modernization Workbench, will run across some of his former work. "I hope that old code isn't still out there," he says. "It's a scary thought."

But it wouldn't surprise many people if the code is there. Old Cobol programs never seem to die. Cobol represents about 70% of legacy systems on the mainframe, and there are still about 95 million Cobol applications running, comprising 2 trillion lines of code, according to IBM estimates. That's why there are several software toolsets devoted to modernizing legacy Cobol code.

Modernization Workbench analyzes that code, identifies the business rules buried in it, and helps renovate or restructure the aging Cobol application for continued longevity. It's priced at $50,000 to $200,000, depending on the number of modules the customer needs. Modernization Workbench was formerly marketed as Relativity's Rescueware, but its analysis and rebuilding toolset has since been expanded.

SEEC Inc.'s Mosaic Studio tool analyzes and documents a Cobol application's function points and identifies the business rules encapsulated in the code. Once application functions are identified, says Ravi Koka, CEO of SEEC, Mosaic Studio includes tools for regenerating legacy code by either wrapping it in an object layer that allows it to be called as a separate software module or by restructuring it with an event-driven, windowing user interface. Mosaic Studio is priced at $150,000 to $200,000.

Micro Focus Net Express 4.0, from Micro Focus International Ltd., a 27-year-old supplier of Cobol compilers and development tools, was launched at the end of April. The development environment is designed to squeeze more use out of legacy systems.

The development environment automates the connection between legacy code and a Java 2 Enterprise Edition application, which allows the legacy system to supply services to Web apps, says Ian Archbell, VP of the Net Express product line. Net Express is priced at $3,700 per developer seat.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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