COBOL isn’t dead–experts talk about uses, demand, and need for education

I have a message from people in the industry to readers. COBOL is not dead. They are angry at the idea that the programming language is no longer useful. COBOL is “healthy, and so is his companion mainframe.” Leon Kappelman, a professor of information systems at the University of North Texas, said: One of the reasons is that “there are no business cases to replace them,” Kappelman said. Some estimates still have 200 trillion lines of code. “Even if that 220 billion line is closer, the cost of replacing it will now be $ 4-8 trillion, maybe more,” he said. According to Kappelman, these are often large software systems, and replacements carry risks. “Also, there is always the question of what to replace. The main purpose for which COBOL was developed was to build a system to process transactions and generate reports,” he said. He pointed out that it was one of the main types of computerized processes. The COBOL system is “quite structured and very easy to maintain,” Kappelman said. “Imagine a back office system for banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, and government agencies that can handle large volumes of transactions efficiently and quickly. This is just overhead, and the strategic value of replacing them is It’s not too big, if any. “” COBOL is not only widely used, but will continue to exist. ” Cameron Seay is an adjunct professor at East Carolina University in North Carolina, who teaches COBOL and co-chairs the COBOL Working Group of the Open Mainframe Project. Seay, like Kappelman, said that COBOL systems are used primarily by financial services organizations and the US federal government, but are also widely used in the retail industry. Early on in a study conducted by the COBOL Working Group, Seay said many retailers were using COBOL to handle credit card transactions at point-of-sale. “We know that Walmart uses COBOL, and Target and Home Depot use mainframes.” Most of those mainframes use COBOL. Demand is stable for the time being COBOL demand is “medium” and some of the demand uses COBOL-based systems to handle numerous unemployment insurance claims and other transactions related to pandemic support. It’s likely coming from a government agency, said Art Zeile, CEO of Dice. Burning Glass Technologies, which collects and analyzes vast numbers of job listings across the United States, predicts that demand for COBOL skills will decline by 13.6% over the next decade, including data from legacy systems to the cloud. Zeile pointed out that an increasing number of organizations are inevitably migrating to their infrastructure. “However, at the moment, the median salary for people with COBOL skills is $ 92,086, which is quite high given that COBOL is an older programming language,” he said. People with more than 10 years of COBOL experience can earn close to $ 100,000, Zeile added. Dice states that COBOL-related job demand exists at a certain level in Georgia (1517 in the last 12 months), Texas (1393 in the last 12 months), and California (1128 in the last 12 months). ), North Carolina (1086 in the last 12 months), New York (1058 in the last 12 months). Organizations that employ many engineers with COBOL skills include IBM, Fiserv, Amazon, Travelers, and Citi. Like other institutions, large institutions such as banks are likely to have at least a few legacy systems running COBOL, Zeile said. COBOL running on the mainframe proved its value under a pandemic. For example, following the surge in unemployment insurance claims in New Jersey in 2020, Governor Phil Murphy called on programmers with COBOL experience to volunteer to help support legacy systems, and engineers in the state. Offered cooperation. The case “reminded me how important it is to operate a system with a large number of usage-trained technicians,” Zeile said. The problem with being an old language COBOL and mainframes have been around for decades, and many programmers are starting to retire, which will lead to a shortage of skilled people. According to the Society for Information Management’s 2020 IT Trends Study report, respondents expect 7% of IT employees to retire in the next five years, at 7.1% in 2019 and 6.9% in 2018. It is said to be at the same level. However, the report says it’s unclear how much of a particular skill (eg, legacy applications, mainframes, COBOL, etc.) will be adversely affected by retirement. According to Seay, about 45% of those who responded to the COBOL Working Group survey said they had been in the industry for more than 30 years. “We expect to need a COBOL programmer in the very near future,” but most universities don’t teach this programming language. Of the 17 universities in the University of North Carolina, only East Carolina has COBOL lectures, Seay said. Fortunately, “my lectures are full every semester,” he said. Seay also runs a boot camp outside the university, and 25 people attended his recent mainframe introductory course. Seay believes that the Historically Black College (HBCU) “may be the ground for the development of this technology.” He has taught mainframe classes at four HBCU schools and said, “All four schools had a huge response. Many of the students who attended have jobs.” (You can read more at Tech Republic Japan)