IBM Invests in COBOL Modernization With Advanced Binary Optimization

COBOL Advanced Binary Optimization

IBM Application Delivery Foundation (ADF) for z Systems provides an integrated, core set of development tools for creating and maintaining applications for z/OS environments. It’s also a great starter set of tools to help organizations quickly adopt DevOps on z Systems. ADF provides support for both Enterprise COBOL and ABO. Its features include:

  • IBM Developer for z Systems, providing an enhanced toolset for creating and maintaining z/OS applications quickly and efficiently. This set of development tools designed for batch, CICS, IMS and DB2 environments are optimized for the workstation-based Eclipse platform. Besides COBOL, it can also be used for PL/I, C++, assembler and Java applications development. Developers can take advantage of a modern, interactive and integrated environment for enhanced productivity. It’s an essential tool for new System z development talent.
  • Debug Tool for z/OS, an interactive, source-level debugging tool for compiled applications. It provides full support for IBM’s COBOL technology. IBM’s debug solution is unique because it has the ability to consume DWARF debug information stored in the “no load” section of program objects and leverages that information to support debugging optimized production code. It also fully supports debugging binaries optimized by ABO.
  • Fault Analyzer for z/OS, designed to gather real-time information when an application ends abnormally. It analyses abends along with key diagnosis information to help the developer understand the root cause of the failure. It’s now enhanced to fully support binaries optimized by ABO.
  • File Manager for z/OS, which simplifies manipulation of data stored in a variety of data stores found on the z/OS platform (e.g., z/OS data sets, DB2, CICS, IMS or IBM WebSphere MQ data). It also provides essential functions for test data management such as data scrambling and copying of data across systems.
  • Application Performance Analyzer for z/OS, which identifies performance and response time problems. It assists in reducing the overall resource consumption by z/OS applications at source line level. It can now be used to analyze the performance of COBOL binaries optimized by ABO.

IBM has various DevOps solutions from design to delivery. This solution has been significantly strengthened with these latest additions:

  • IBM Application Delivery Intelligence is a cognitive solution for driving continuous DevOps improvements. It helps users optimize their testing process by capturing, storing and analyzing information from ADF.
  • EZSource, an IBM company and the latest addition to the IBM DevOps tools family, provides automated source code analysis to help developers quickly and easily understand their COBOL applications based on data displayed on a dashboard. This is a must-have tool for migrating to COBOL V6 or modernizing existing applications to enter the API economy.

The Retirement Challenge

One challenge many organizations are facing for their COBOL applications is that experienced developers are starting to retire and replacing this skill is difficult. Fortunately, COBOL is an easy-to-learn language that adapts well to business applications and encourages a straightforward programming style that is self-documenting.

To address the skills challenge, IBM has partnered with colleges and universities from all over the world via the Academic Initiative Program to provide essential education on z Systems technologies. Courses offered by the education institutions participating in this program are listed on its website on its website. In addition, the IBM also helps to connect clients (i.e., employers) with candidates interested in finding enterprise computing positions through the z Systems Job Connector website. Clients post z Systems job opportunities on the website and candidates post their resumes. This way, they can be connected with employers ready to hire them and are looking for their skills. Of course it helps very much that IBM's COBOL offering has been enhanced by a set of productivity tools that the new talent expects as part of the agile development experience.

Given the billions of lines of existing COBOL code running business-critical applications 24-7, it’s too costly and risky for many organizations to discard COBOL. There’s also no ideal replacement. COBOL’s biggest strengths are its simplicity and its ability to efficiently process transaction data and business rules and ease of maintenance because it’s self-documenting. Because it’s so simple, COBOL is also a very secure programming language as it would be quite difficult to hide malicious code in an application. COBOL workloads are strategic on z Systems because they run clients’ businesses. Enterprise COBOL has a strong and aggressive roadmap continuing to deliver state-of-the-art technology to enable business-critical applications to take full advantage of industry-leading performance and scalability offered by IBM z servers. The ability to extend existing applications to work with new technology infrastructures is expected by industry and clients today (e.g., web, mobile, etc.).

Get Started

The IBM COBOL roadmap is developed in concert with roadmaps of z Systems hardware, Development Tools and middleware so enhancements will be delivered together to bring maximum value to our clients.

This roadmap includes ABO, which is designed to be used in a complementary way with Enterprise COBOL to reduce CPU utilization, processing time and operating cost of their business-critical COBOL workload on z Systems. It also offers the most comprehensive and technologically advanced DevOps solution, from design to delivery. ADF for z Systems is a good starting point. It fully supports new problem determination features offered by Enterprise COBOL and ABO to ensure continued workload on the platform by the next generation of mainframe developers.

Roland Koo is offering manager for Compilers with IBM, responsible for Automatic Binary Optimizer, Enterprise COBOL, and Node.js offerings on IBM Z.

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