The resurgence of COBOL

According to a 1997 survey by the Gartner Group, 80% of the world’s business runs on COBOL, with an estimated 200 billion lines of code in existence and an estimated five billion lines of new code annually.

Because there is a massive installed base, the expense to replace the code would be prohibitive. So, many companies are looking for ways to integrate COBOL with newer applications.

In addition, the average COBOL developer is generally nearing retirement age. In 2004, Gartner made an effort to count COBOL programmers. They estimated then that there were about two million of them worldwide and that the number was declining at 5% annually.

From ComputerWorld:

We surveyed Cobol programmers and companies involved in the Cobol field and determined that the market these days supports two types of careers:

  • An emerging role in which the programmer serves as a bridge between Cobol code and new applications. Such jobs require people who understand Cobol, the business rules and processes on which old Cobol programs are based, and more modern languages such as Java.
  • A more traditional programming path, in which the employee maintains and fixes old Cobol code in addition to writing new code, also still in Cobol.

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