Survey Says COBOL Still Going Strong
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Wednesday, 19 February 2020

A new survey of companies using COBOL and mainframes found they're planning to modernize their existing apps rather than start again with new languages.

Last year COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) marked its 60th anniversary and we revealed how it is still going strong in a surprising range of organizations.

The survey was carried out by COBOL specialists Micro Focus. However, while this might make cynics think they'd want those results from a survey, the figures do look convincing.

cobol60

They're also backed up by earlier figures showing that 90% of Fortune 500 companies are still running COBOL, as are most ATMs. Micro Focus estimates that COBOL is still being used in 70 percent of global transaction processing systems, and that 220 billion lines of COBOL are in use today, with an additional 5 billion lines in new code added each year. You can understand why when you consider that when the Commonwealth Bank of Australia rewrote its COBOL banking system in 2012, it took five years and cost over 1 billion Australian dollars.

The new survey follows data gathered in a previous 2017 survey and the latest figures show that 70% of enterprises favor modernization as an approach for implementing strategic change as compared to either replacing or retiring their key COBOL applications. The reasons the companies feel this way is that modernizing existing COBOL apps continues to offer a low-risk and effective means of transforming IT to support digital business initiatives.

The global survey asked architects, software engineers, developers, development managers and IT executives working with COBOL from 40 different countries about the importance of COBOL apps to their business, future application roadmaps and planning, as well as their development toolchains and resources.

Just over half the respondents were planning to modernize their apps and integrate them with other more recent systems. A third more were working to modernize their business processes, and another 38 percent were planning to modernize infrastructure. 

Modernization was favored over the replacing and retiring of older systems with 63 percent of respondents choosing to improve upon their existing COBOL systems. 92 percent of respondents said their organization’s COBOL applications are "strategic", and there's been an overall growth in the size of the average application code base from 8.4 million lines of code in 2017 to 9.9 million this year. COBOL is still going strong.

 cobol60

More Information

COBOL Survey

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 February 2020 )