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COBOL: Still the Heart of Today’s Business Process Systems

By Dick Weisinger

COBOL, the Common Business-Oriented Language, turned 60 years old this year. Despite it’s age, it is still used today by more than 70 percent of business processing systems.

How has COBOL survived?

Evolution. Despite it’s age, COBOL has evolved and supports integration points with all modern code technologies, like Java, C#, Docker, .NET, JVM, as well as cloud technologies like Azure and AWS. It is used in Web Services like REST, SOA, SOAP, JSON, and XML.

Portability. COBOL beat Java to the “write once, run anywhere” paradigm. COBOL apps are able to run across many different platforms.

Readability. COBOL was designed to be readable, English-like, and easily understandable. It is easy to learn and to maintain.

Derek Britton, Micro Focus’s (the maintainer of COBOL) global director of product marketing, said that “while market sizing is difficult to specify with any accuracy, we do know the number of organizations running COBOL systems today is in the tens of thousands. It is impossible to estimate the tens of millions of end users who interface with COBOL-based applications on a daily basis, but the language’s reliance is clearly seen with its use in 70 percent of global transaction processing systems.”

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