The Future of COBOL : Modernizing Bolagsverket’s COBOL applications

University essay from Mittuniversitetet/Avdelningen för informations- och kommunikationssystem

Abstract: COBOL is an old programming language that, despite its age, is still used in many different areas, such as financial and insurance administration. The Swedish Companies Registration Office, also known as Bolagsverket is no exception. This agency administers information regarding Swedish companies and associations. Although the COBOL programs work, they have many disadvantages. The system is both expensive, inflexible and there are very few new developers available. Bolagsverket would therefore gladly replace COBOL with a more flexible and affordable alternative. This thesis will study and present some solutions and also provide actual examples of how they can be used. Two different products have been studied; Oracle SALT and Micro Focus Visual COBOL. SALT offers a web service interface, which enables the users to access services related to the COBOL programs remotely via the Internet or other networks. Visual COBOL, on the other hand, compiles the code into low-level code and deploys it onto new platforms. Both products can make the use of the code in a more flexible manner. Visual COBOL has, however, more substantial and long-term functionality that Bolagsverket is very interested in pursuing, even though it costs five times as much as SALT. One other main reason is that the second product can drastically reduce the gap between the COBOL programs and the surrounding systems. It is even possible to save money since some components can be reduced or even completely removed. The final conclusion is that neither of the programs offers any pure replacement with regards to COBOL, but they have made the language much more adapted to twenty-first century computer systems. They are therefore considered as a good option instead of rewriting the entire COBOL code into a new language.

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