Many of the U.S. government's older mission-critical systems continue to run on Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL), a programming language developed in 1959.
Despite the growing prevalence of modern programming languages, COBOL is responsible for more than 70 percent of the world's business transactions. However, in the age of disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobile computing, big data, and social media, COBOL has developed a reputation as outdated, according to Micro Focus' Ed Airey.
The belief that COBOL is not as effective as newer programming languages is furthered by the fact that only about 25 percent of U.S. colleges are teaching COBOL in their curricula, and only 20 percent of those schools require that programming graduates take it. "Yes, colleges are producing developers, but with what skills?" Airey says. "We are facing a skills challenge."
As government agencies look to modernize their IT systems, they must decide whether to replace their COBOL code or repurpose it, which can be an expensive and difficult task. "COBOL still remains the most readable programming language ever invented, and it maintains that characteristic that no other language has decided is important," says Micro Focus' Scot Nielsen.
From Federal Computer Week
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