For any business seeking to handle a plethora of things simultaneously, COBOL is the answer. Imagine the ease of function with COBOL as it ingests data, processes it, and readily gives the output.
With more than 25,300 companies still using COBOL globally, it is likely indispensable. While COBOL may appear antiquated to some, it is still the preferred programming language for many large corporations.
But to get your company’s heavy work done, like the migration of big systems, you cannot just rely on any system. Your best bet might be the iSeries COBOL, also known as AS400 COBOL.
As the AS400/i-Series uses the PowerPC microprocessor intertwined with the reduced instruction set computer technology, it can also work great for departments within large enterprises. Here’s what you must know about COBOL and IBM AS400/i-Series before decide anything for your business:
Understanding COBOL Features
COBOL is age-old. It was invented in 1959 to rule out the agony of creating a unique language to tell computers what to do. Since the inception of COBOL, there has been a common way of communicating the set of instructions to the computer for multi-brands.
As the US Department of Defense endorsed COBOL, it became the most widely used programming language in the world within a short span of time. The reason it caught traction so fast is attributed to its fantastic features. Have a look at some of the features:
Easy to Learn
COBOL is simple and easy to learn. It can be compiled with ease, and its execution does not take much effort. It consists of a huge syntax vocabulary while using an uncluttered style of coding.
Handle Enormous Amount of Data
The handling capability of COBOL is extensive, enabling it to handle heaps of data quickly. It is a good fit for most businesses. It is still widely used worldwide as about 70% of the global transactions are handled by it. COBOL is an excellent fit for both complex and simple transactions.
COBOL has been around for many years, and it has seen a lot of business transformations. As a language that is used on several platforms, it has gained universal functionality. It also has debugged, and testing tools enabled for a multitude of platforms.
Easy to scale and structure
The structure used within COBOL is relatively easy to read, change, and debug. It can also be scaled quickly and serves as a reliable and highly portable language over distinct platforms.
Why can’t COBOL be Considered as Dead?
While many argue that COBOL is no less than antiquity, it is still not obsolete. Born at the hands of government bodies, computer manufacturers, and consultants, COBOL is popular to this date. Things that contribute to its popularity are:
- COBOL is primarily in existence to serve business applications. While UNIX and the C language seem more relevant to modern needs, COBOL reigns higher in inclusivity around the globe.
- The core idea behind COBOL is not restricted to feeding data, processing it, and giving out the result. While this idea works exquisitely for most transactions to date, modern applications such as iSeries COBOL, also known as AS400 COBOL, refine it further.
- COBOL’s business and mainframe-oriented design have now come miles ahead by being equipped with the modern functions through IBM, MicroFocus, Fujitsu, etc. It is widely used in the 21st century. And something that is widely used cannot be considered “dead.”
Analysing the Cost of Moving Away from COBOL
Even though COBOL has been around for a very long time, many companies still use it to run their transactional business processes. Various banks, insurance companies, hospitals, government organizations, and others use COBOL to date. While we cannot say that staying with COBOL has not been free of hiccups for these companies, they have been reluctant to make the switch. They plead to find COBOL programmers, even going to the extent of asking them to come out of retirement to keep their operations running.
But why such desperation? Why not just change the language to something more modern and convenient?
The reason is cost.
The cost of switching from COBOL to the deemed “modern” languages is an expensive affair. For an organization running for a good deal of time, such a switch marks the spending of money they simply do not have.
The first plan of action here is to understand that COBOL is not unavailable in modern forms. Hence, instead of switching, upgrading COBOL to the latest version is your best foot forward.
And remember, the problem your organization is facing might not be with COBOL but with the application’s infrastructure and the platform.
Disadvantages of Bequeathing COBOL
While the mountain-high cost is one issue related to leaving COBOL, there are other disadvantages associated with bequeathing COBOL. Have a look at some of the reasons:
- COBOL’s easy readability makes it easy to learn and execute. This language was made from scratch; therefore, using it is not a big issue. The use of words in syntax provides a human element to COBOL.
- COBOL might be indispensable for heterogeneous “record structure” data. This type of data has substructures that are distinct, and not all modern languages work well with it.
- For decimal arithmetic, COBOL works better than many modern languages. Since the language is business-oriented, this rules out the possibility of rounding off errors.
- Easy assessment and manipulation of heaps of data can be done using COBOL.
While most modern programs have some of these features, none have all of these.
How do Modernization of COBOL Applications Helps?
The modernization of COBOL application can help companies in a greater extend. After modernization you can do things like:
- Coding fast and with fewer errors can maximize your productivity with COBOL. To avoid typos, one can opt for background compilation. You can use an application to pinpoint typos to save time.
- The user interfaces you create should be modern and well-suited to the user’s needs.
- You can salvage the object-oriented feature of COBOL as it is well-suited for OO development. It also works well with the interface to the present procedural code.
- Pinpointing the areas within a code that need to be changed can be a painfully time-consuming task. You can search the codebase faster. This can be done by using a search for regular expressions and a quick find.
- You can also use COBOL within toolsets typically used by developers. That implies that developers of other languages can also pick up COBOL within a few hours and crunch data quickly.
- You can use a prediction tool to save time on typing the code. Through this, the device remembers the field names and sections for you and gives them as input when you type the code.
How is iSeries COBOL Better Than the SQL Program?
COBOL and SQL are not similar. At times, these languages are also used hand in hand. IBM iSeries COBOL, also known as AS400 COBOL, is gaining more traction than SQL despite the image of “old” attached to COBOL.
To settle the ongoing debate claiming that AS400 COBOL might be better than SQL Program, we lay out the following premise:
COBOL and RPG are Native on iSeries
Both COBOL and RPG are native languages on the iSeries. To use SQL, the programmer may have to embed the SQL statements within COBOL to use them. Using SQL is not a straightforward way of doing things on iSeries.
COBOL is Easier to Understand for Even Non-programmers
While COBOL is verbose, it is much easier to interpret and understand, even for non-programmers. It’s not all mumble jumble, and jargony, making it easy to use for iSeries.
COBOL is in Demand Again
COBOL is not dying. Instead, it is on the rise again. While SQL is deemed faster, most operations work more quickly with iSeries COBOL.
While the absolute answer to which of either reign higher for iSeries can be summed by the word “depends,” AS400 COBOL is apt to be used for all the purposes. And same goes for RPG AS400
Enhance your Business with Integrative Systems
With Integrative Systems at your disposition, you can see your company thrive. For IBM AS400/i-series modernization, Integrative Systems is what you need.
We provide IBM Power Systems iSeries consulting services, custom software development, design solutions, RPG AS400/COBOL application development and maintenance, and modernization services.
Backed by the industry experience of more than 20 years, we can help you see your projects mount heights of success.
COBOL is not out of business, and we are here to prove it by offering you the services of our AS400 COBOL developers and iSeries COBOL software services and support.
Simply reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org