In the more than 50 years since Cobol was released, the language is still widely used by corporations, where it excels at executing large-scale batch and transaction processing operations on mainframes. However, a recent Computerworld survey of 357 information technology (IT) professionals found that 46 percent of respondents are noticing a shortage of Cobol programmers, and 50 percent said the average age of their Cobol staff is 45 or older and 22 percent said the age is 55 or older.
Meanwhile, organizations are migrating off of mainframes and away from Cobol for non-core applications and smaller workloads, preferring Linux or Windows servers. Cobol also is not considered as agile as object-oriented languages for modern programming needs such as mobile apps and the Web.
Almost half of the survey respondents who do not use Cobol say the reason is the language is outdated. Many companies are attempting to right-size some non-core applications off the mainframe where there is a business benefit. Other functions, such as general ledger and reporting, are moving to distributed computing platforms. Meanwhile, some vendors have established processes for analyzing and extracting the business rules embedded in Cobol code.
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