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    What’s There in the Future for COBOL & COBOL Programmers?


    In life, a few things, like wine, get better as they age.

    But can we say the same about technology?

    While we are constantly looking for the latest gadget that is ahead of its time, can we expect a technology to age like a fine wine, gaining value and creating impact?

    If we talk about a 6-decades-old programming language – AS400 COBOL, invented in 1959, we, as an AS 400 development partner, can confidently say YES!

    The programming language has aged like a fine wine, creating value and leaving a lasting impact on the world of computing.

    Some opine that it is dead.

    But we protest that it is not.

    If you think about it…

    If it was dead, why would business leaders of 27,000+ new global companies adopt iSeries COBOL? (6Sense)

    Why will there be over 220 billion lines of COBOL programming code with 1.5 billion written each year, including the code that powers 80% of in-person financial transactions? (Forbes)

    These facts alone negate the idea of COBOL being a thing of the past.

    But there is another well-known challenge lurking in the background—the COBOL developer shortage.

    This is true! Being in the industry for 20+ years, we have witnessed a sharp decline in the number of COBOL programmers.



    • A very small number of universities offer COBOL courses, and the number of individuals who study it, is thinning as time goes by.
    • The modern COBOL developers prefer to migrate to new programming languages.
    • A significant number of COBOL programmers are retiring, leaving a void in the iSeries COBOL workforce.

    Thus, there is a supply-shortage in the job-market for COBOL programmers.

    Yet, IBM is working to modernize this AS400 language and may mitigate this challenge for good.

    Despite these facts, we claim that COBOL AS400 has a great future and there are COBOL programmers in 2024 who are qualified to meet your AS-400 development needs.

    The modern workforce is interested in mastering COBOL, bringing you the advantage of preserving AS 400 systems while leveraging the modern strengths in this ever-evolving landscape.

    So, what does this resource has for you?

    In this blog, we will discuss –

    • Why COBOL has a promising future?
    • Where can you find the qualifying COBOL developers for your AS 400 development needs?
    • What are the skills you should look for in a new-age COBOL programmer?

    So, grab your coffee and sit back as you have the right resource at hand.

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    Before dissecting the opportunities, challenges, and more about iSeries COBOL developers, let us first understand what COBOL is.

    Touch base on ‘’What is COBOL AS400?’’

    COBOL stands for Common Business-Oriented Language, which was developed by the Committee for Data Systems Languages (CDSL) in 1959.

    It was originally created as a portable programming language for data processing but soon became popular as one of the most used business programming languages in the world, because it could run on more than one manufacturer’s computer.

    Today, as you read this piece, iSeries COBOL is used in multiple industries, namely-

    • Insurance
    • Consulting
    • Engineering
    • Banking and Finance
    • Transportation System
    • Software Development, and more.

    Before COBOL AS400 came into existence, business leaders developed their own programming language – which was a hefty task that involved working with various computer brands. And, since the launch of COBOL, it has been greatly used because of its portability and ease of use.

    The primary usage of COBOL is with AS400 mainframes. If you talk to a COBOL programmer, they will tell you – “Learning this AS400 language is not as difficult as understanding the ecosystem in which the COBOL programming language is used.”

    Here are the Top Features of COBOL That You Need to Know:

    • COBOL programming is an easy-to-learn language. It is a standard AS400 language that can be compiled on a wide range of computers. And it also supports a vast vocabulary.
    • Globally, COBOL is still used in more than 70% of transactions. It is used in both simple and complex transactions because it has advanced file-handling capabilities.
    • Since COBOL iSeries has been around for far too long, it has adapted to years of business transformations such as debugging and testing tools for most computer platforms.
    • COBOL is one of the most reliable, easily scalable, and portable languages out there.

    That’s about the AS400 COBOL programming language, its features highlighting its capabilities and widespread usage in diverse industries in 2024.

    Now, let’s explore why COBOL programming and COBOL programmer are relevant in 2024 and beyond.

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    Why COBOL & COBOL Developer Are Relevant in 2024 and Beyond?

    As mentioned above, COBOL iSeries was initially invented for usage of government entities, but various industry leaders recognized its potential, and COBOL soon became a popular programming language, across industries.

    Why COBOL Programmers Are in Demand in Even Today?

    The legacy of AS 400 and COBOL language continues till today, and thousands of business leaders, like you, rely on COBOL AS400 for their routine transactions.

    Thus, having a skilled COBOL programmer on the team is a top priority.

    Additionally, about 240 billion lines of COBOL are in use today, and about 5 billion lines of COBOL code are written each year, claims IBM.

    These facts underscore that there are great opportunities for decision makers and business leaders who are considering investments or strategic directions related to COBOL in 2024.

    Exploring the Challenges Around COBOL iSeries:

    As discussed above, COBOL AS400 is not being taught at the desired scale.

    Most modern developers are not as interested in learning COBOL because they believe it is dead. Typically, modern developers are more interested in mastering programming languages like Ruby, TypeScript, or Go.

    Even when you look for job openings, you will find more vacancies for Go, Ruby, or JAVA programmers than for COBOL developers.

    Plus, many business leaders are trying to integrate modern software development techniques using modern programming languages with AS400 mainframe.

    The present age of apps, the cloud, and smartphones has shifted the programming demand, and many IT leaders fathom retiring their IBM mainframe systems.

    Thus, the decline of the COBOL iSeries may seem evident.

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    But we say COBOL is not replaceable. And Here’s Why.

    COBOL would have remained in the textbook of history if IBM had not sold various mainframes that run on AS400 COBOL.

    Despite the emergence of the cloud, visionary IT leaders are in need of their IBM AS400 mainframe, working at top-notch performance.


    • Because the core strengths of IBM Mainframe are reliability, availability, and serviceability.
    • If the leaders, such as you, decide to change their deep-rooted mainframe systems, it will be hard to retain the exactness of the software. And because of this, the performance of the system is likely to suffer.
    • The transition to modern technology may affect the business logic. If the programmers rely on non-standard and undocumented features, it might introduce new vulnerabilities in the code.
    • The maintenance cost of the new programming language might be high.
    • The modern programming language might not consider the BCD conversions and decimal arithmetic the way COBOL AS400 does. And it’s a vital problem because these components are important for mainframe applications. COBOL iSeries natively supports these and only a capable COBOL developer, well-versed in the intricacies of the AS400 mainframe can lead them through the development.

    This assurance keeps the demand up for COBOL developers.

    This has also led to a new initiative- “Calling all COBOL Programmers” while IBM has launched an open-source training course on COBOL.

    From the above pointers, we can confirm that switching from COBOL to the emerging languages is not the best option for business leaders.

    Then what choice is left?

    The best choice is to stick to iSeries COBOL language, onboard a team of proficient COBOL programmers, integrate a modernization strategy and ensure the continuity of your AS400 applications in this evolving landscape.

    This brings us to your next important question that has monopolized the mind of almost every AS/400 mainframe user.

    • Are there any good AS400 developers out there?
    • Where do I find a proficient COBOL developer for my AS-400 needs?

    Let’s now seek answers to these most common questions asked by decision makers such as yourself related to COBOL experts.

    Where to Find COBOL Programmer?

    First, to erase your doubt, an active COBOL developer is not hard to find.

    You can find them in the same place you find other software developers.

    The IT agencies connect you with the ready-to-deploy teams of skilled COBOL programmers who have undergone thorough selection and training process, ensuring that you get a proficient workforce to tackle your AS 400 needs.

    So far, we’ve discussed the challenges associated with COBOL, the shortage of COBOL experts, and where to find the capable COBOL developers.

    Now what should be your next step?

    Your text step is identifying, assessing, and assembling a team of COBOL professionals.

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    So, let’s tap into the key skills business leaders should consider when evaluating the AS400 COBOL programmers in this modern landscape.

    What Skillset COBOL Programmers Must Have in 2024?

    Looking for a COBOL developer in the age of modern technologies, you don’t want to engage with a COBOL expert with an average skill set.

    To refine the hiring process, here are the key skills you need to look for:

    Technical Development Skills

    A knowledgeable COBOL programmer must be equipped with technical development skills such as knowledge of Visual Basic, JSL, CICS, COBOL, QMF, maths skills, and debugging skills, to troubleshoot problems and develop error-free AS400 applications for mainframe computers.

    Understanding the Software Development Life Cycle

    The developer must have end-to-end knowledge of the software development lifecycle, from planning to deployment and maintenance, to deliver reliable and high-quality AS400 applications.

    Proficiency in DevOps

    DevOps has secured a place in the must-have skills of a new-age COBOL programmer. It is a software development approach that proves more effective in communicating and collaborating across departments, facilitating faster and quality software development.

    In-Depth Knowledge of DB2

    DB2 is an IBM database product – a relational database management system. Your selected AS400 COBOL developer must have end-to-end knowledge in utilizing DB2 to effectively manage and interact with relational databases on the AS 400 system.

    Expertise in Mainframe

    The candidate with good knowledge of COBOL programming must have an exposure to Mainframe environment to optimize legacy systems and enable effective development in mainframe-centric industries.

    Competence in Handling XML

    XML is an acronym for Extensible Markup Language, which assists COBOL programmers in managing structured data interchange effectively. A COBOL expert must be competent in handling XML to unlock flawless data exchange and integration.

    Mathematical Proficiency

    A COBOL developer must have an advanced understanding of Maths as the programming needs Algebra, Arithmetic and logical operations to effectively develop and implement complicated algorithms and calculations.

    So that was all about the key skills your COBOL programmer must have in 2024 for strategic operations.

    Lastly, we are confident that this guide has empowered you with a clear understanding of the path forward for COBOL language and COBOL experts.

    Connect with COBOL Experts

    Want to escape the hassle of identifying the COBOL professionals who can seamlessly meet your expectations?

    Reach out to Integrative systems to access the skilled COBOL developers and escape the hassle.

    COBOL Programming – Integrative Systems Approach

    As the IBM AS400 development partner of your choice, our team consists of expert COBOL programmers who will efficiently meet all your COBOL development needs with precision and expertise.

    You get to leverage our years of AS 400 expertise for designing solutions, custom software development, iSeries consulting, COBOL/RPG application development and maintenance, and mainframe systems technology consulting.

    If you have been struggling to find the right COBOL programming professionals, we, an IBM Silver Business Partner and INC 5000 Company offer you a reliable platform to access the expert COBOL developers, along with AS400 iSeries software services and 24 x 7 support.

    Want to connect with us?

    Simply drop us an email at [email protected], and we will get back to you within 2 business days.

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    One Reply to “What’s There in the Future for COBOL & COBOL Programmers?”

    • Deepa Asthana

      Nice to hear that we people still have our options left in mainframes or Cobol. I would like to have more knowledge kn iseries.

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