Reviving COBOL: The Resurgence of a Legacy Programming Language

In the world of technology, where the latest and greatest often grab headlines

Reviving COBOL: The Resurgence of a Legacy Programming Language

In the world of technology, where the latest and greatest often grab headlines, it's surprising that there's a buzz around a language from the 1950s. Enter COBOL programming, a once-popular language that powered many of the world's banking systems, insurance policies, and government functions. Like a classic film being rediscovered by a new generation, COBOL is experiencing a surprising resurgence. Read further to know the reasons behind its unexpected comeback.

1. Trust in its Stability: The Rock of Ages

COBOL has stood the test of time. Created in the late '50s, it was designed to be readable and straightforward, using plain English-like commands. Over the decades, COBOL has showcased its resilience by running critical systems without hiccups. This long history provides businesses with a sense of trust. They know COBOL is stable, reliable, and won't buckle under pressure.

In addition to its stability, COBOL's self-explanatory syntax makes it an excellent choice for businesses looking to maintain and update legacy systems without the added complexity of learning a new language.

2. The Need for Modernization: Blending Old with New

While COBOL still powers many systems, they often must interact with newer technologies. As companies integrate modern apps and tools, there's a growing demand for professionals familiar with COBOL. This blending of old and new requires expertise to ensure smooth communication between legacy systems and contemporary applications.

COBOL's adaptability in bridging the gap between old and new technologies is a key factor in its resurgence. Its ability to coexist with modern infrastructures has made it an attractive choice for businesses seeking to modernize their systems gradually.

3. A Dwindling Pool of Experts: Scarcity Sparks Demand

Over the years, as newer programming languages emerged, fewer people learned COBOL. This has led to a gap. Many current COBOL experts are nearing retirement, and there aren't enough young coders to fill their shoes. This scarcity has made COBOL skills highly valuable, causing a renewed interest in learning and mastering the language.

As the demand for COBOL experts continues to rise, educational institutions and organizations recognize the need to train a new generation of programmers in COBOL, ensuring its continued relevance.

4. Recent Crises Highlighted its Importance: The Unsung Hero

During global events like the COVID-19 pandemic, many government systems faced unprecedented loads. In the U.S., for example, unemployment systems—many of which run on COBOL—were overwhelmed. This spotlighted the need for COBOL experts to manage, maintain, and upgrade these systems, further elevating the language's importance.

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a stark reminder of the critical role COBOL plays in maintaining essential services, leading to increased investment in COBOL-based systems and the professionals who support them.

5. A Rich Legacy: Not Just Old, but Gold

While COBOL might be old, it's packed with rich features that modern languages can still learn from. Its readability, ability to handle massive datasets, and robustness make it not just a legacy language but a treasure trove of potential learnings for current developers.

The principles and design philosophies that underpin COBOL continue to influence the development of modern programming languages, making it a source of valuable insights and lessons for the software development community.

“As organizations look to deliver on IT strategies through modernization and digital transformation initiatives, the findings of the latest COBOL Survey demonstrate the continued importance of COBOL for application modernization and business change,” said Ed Airey, Director of COBOL Product Marketing, OpenText.

The world of technology is ever-evolving, with languages and trends coming and going. Yet, the revival of COBOL serves as a reminder that foundations matter. What was once seen as outdated is now being celebrated for its strength and resilience. The resurgence of COBOL showcases that sometimes, looking back can be the best way to move forward, especially in a landscape that constantly seeks reliable and proven tools.