Cobol lives on via BluePhoenix, Cook Systems
The Common Business Oriented Language, or Cobol as its better known, lives on
and on in the legacy world. And thanks to some fancy new technology from
BluePhoenix Solutions -- a company whose corporate history can be traced back to
Seer Technologies, which emerged from IBM's ill-fated AD/Cycle effort to
automate application development -- and Cook Systems International -- an IT
outsourcer and consultant -- the venerable programming language looks to be
getting yet another lease on life. But officials stress that the aim of the
effort is more than simply an attempt to keep ailing Cobol code up and
According to officials from both firms, the process they call Cobol
Regeneration can yield applications that are more reusable, easier to maintain
and more responsive to accommodating new business processes. Ed Gentry,
BluePhoenix vice president for product management, said Cook's Cobol
Regeneration solution leverages BluePhoenix technology to create a
technology-based process that can migrate Cobol applications to a more
modernized environment. He noted the product grew out of a RAD technology
BluePhoenix had acquired, legacy modernization technologies, and the system and
application knowledge provided by Cook.
Gentry said the product does more than simply parse old Cobol -- it derives
business rules from existing code through a process that is largely, but not
entirely, automated, making it possible to either rebuild the Cobol that is
there or to create a functional specification that can produce an equivalent
system in a more modern technology such as Java.
''It isn't just people saying 'I don't want Cobol any more,' but also people
looking to achieve more business flexibility and maintainability,'' said
William Ulrich, author of Legacy Systems
Transformation Strategies and
president of Tactical Strategy Group, said the billions of lines of Cobol code
in the world still represent critical functionality, but people have often lost
sight of what they do and how they work and interrelate.
If you try to take Cobol and turn it into Java without preparation, you are
simply trying to replicate a procedural language in a much different medium,
warns Ulrich. ''That's something no one wants to work with,'' he said. By
contrast, the BluePhoenix approach can rebundle the functions to take advantage
of the characteristics of Java or simply spruce up what's there. ''It is a more
valid way of doing this,'' he added.
More information is available at http://www.bphx.com or http://www.cooksys.com.