I am a fan of science fiction and love the concept of cloning to help solve problems. Cloning leads me to think about COBOL developers.
Many enterprises experience the challenges and pain of losing COBOL and other legacy language developers. The thought sometimes comes up, If only we could clone these experts by leveraging younger developers.
The fact is COBOL is not the future career for most young developers. In addition, even if they were interested, it takes a long time to train new engineers on the existing monolithic applications. So this simply is not a viable solution for the future.
Instead, you are better off leveraging your existing COBOL developers in a more efficient manner. The first step is to understand what your existing COBOL developers are working on beyond the development and maintenance of COBOL applications. What you may discover is they spend a lot of time supporting the company’s modernization efforts. Typical things they do are:
Building interfaces other teams use
Translating data formats
COBOL developers are the experts of the backend systems making them the natural candidates to handle this type of work. However, with these diminishing and hard to replace resources, just maintaining these critical systems is a full time job. This causes a conflict of priorities. So either their primary responsibilities fall behind, or any efforts for modernization suffer.
Luckily there is a solution.
Many of the modernization steps can be automated or eliminated entirely by changing how your enterprise goes about these efforts. The information about the interfaces is contained within the legacy code. Leveraging automation simplifies the parsing of the code and generates language-agnostic representations of the interfaces.
These representations can be leveraged directly by digital developers and deployed as part of cloud-native services. It can help support a modernization in place effort or be part of a hybrid cloud migration effort. This parsing doesn’t require any changes to the legacy systems themselves so those developers are not required to support the effort.
This way COBOL developers are freed to do what they are best at, write COBOL code. For more information check out our ebook about eliminating the manual development of interfaces and the generation of digital services.
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