Wednesday, June 26, 2013

E-Week: COBOL market is still robust, underestimated

eWeek has a web posting “Application Development: Modernizing COBOL apps: 10 Reasons Why It’s Important”, by Darrell K. Taft, link (with slide show) here
Taft says there are 1.5 to 2 million developers worldwide who code COBOL., with about 5 billion lines of code written a year.  (That’s more than I thought, given the amount of retirement.) The average American exercises a transaction (perhaps even when buying gas) that executes a COBOL coded transaction about 13 times a day.  There are over 200 times as many COBOL transactions as Google searches.  (Not sure what happens if you add in Bing and Yahoo Safe).
Micro Focus COBOL still thrives, and COBOL works in Linux and Unix environments.  It can be integrated with java (although I haven’t seen how this is done).  There is an object-oriented implementation of the language (with extra pre-compilation steps) that also works with .NET. 
The need for COBOL is likely to increase specifically because of reforms in health insurance (setting up the exchanges for Obamacare) and entitlements, as well as state welfare and benefits programs.  State governments are typically a large source of short term _6 month-1 year, often renewed) contract with staffing companies.  Professionals tend to recycle into new contracts in the same area (like MMIS). 

There was a tremendous demand for COBOL before Y2K, which dropped off.  But HIPAA generated a lot of contracts early in the last decade.  

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