Dan's Take

Making Mainframes More Efficient

COBOL-IT aims to migrate companies toward Unix, Linux and Windows.

After seeing "Walking Away from the Mainframe" and "DevOps and Mainframes Don't Have To Be Enemies" here on Virtualization Review, the folks of COBOL-IT decided to reach out to me to tell their company's story.

COBOL-IT is a French company that has quickly created a worldwide presence helping migrate mainframe or Micro Focus COBOL assets to other platforms. The goal, the company says, it to help those enterprises reduce costs or take advantage of new development techniques. They also focus on deploying enterprise applications in cloud computing environments.

COBOL-IT customers are typically trying to do one of the following:

  • Move mainframe COBOL applications to other platforms, including single-vendor Unix, many popular Linux distributions and Windows
  • Move single-vendor Unix COBOL applications to Linux or Windows
  • Move Micro Focus COBOL applications to other platforms

The company currently offers three products designed to help make COBOL migrations possible:

  • Compiler Suite. A precompiler designed to input mainframe or Micro Focus COBOL and produce a C program source that can be fed into a broad array of C compilers on many different platforms, including single-vendor Unix, Linux distributions and Windows. Because the C compilation process is automated, COBOL developers don't need to learn C or how those compliers work.
  • Developer Studio. An Eclipse-based development environment that integrates the COBOL-IT compiler, runtime and debugger, and which can be operated on a local or remote host.
  • CitSQL. The CitSQL family of products extends the COBOL-IT development environment to embrace open source solutions. CitSQL provides pre-compilers for the latest versions of open source databases MySQL and PostgreSQL, and with the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standard created by Microsoft.

In other articles, I've commented on the dynamic market centered on the large amount of COBOL code living in enterprises. One part of this market is doing its best to encourage developers to stay on the mainframe (IBM's approach), or bring newcomers to the party (Compuware's approach).

Another part of the market is trying to help enterprises bid a fond farewell to the mainframe by making it possible to move those assets elsewhere. Micro Focus, TmaxSoft and COBOL-IT fit into this category.

Dan's Take: A Pragmatic Approach
It's clear that COBOL-IT faces a great deal of competition, and that some of the competitors are significantly larger organizations having much deeper pockets. COBOL-IT appears to have taken a very pragmatic approach to this dynamic playing field.

The company has chosen to simplify its task by building upon tools offered by others. They offer a pre-compiler that produces C code and then rely upon C compilers offered by the vendors of the systems and OSes. This makes it far easier to support a broad array of platforms, including single-vendor Unix environments, important Linux distributions and Windows. Another benefit of this approach is that DevOps and other developers may use development environments, such as Eclipse, when executing a rapid or continuous development approach.

I've asked COBOL-IT to provide a customer reference so that I may learn more about why an enterprise would select their approach rather than rely on those offered by others. It's clear, however, that if your organization is considering a COBOL migration, COBOL-IT should be on your list of companies to contact.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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