Three Essentials for Reducing Risk When Migrating from COBOL to Java
Blog //06-04-2021

Three Essentials for Reducing Risk When Migrating from COBOL to Java

by Rob Anderson, Vice President of Marketing and Product for Application Modernization

The process of modernising aging COBOL-based applications to object-oriented languages such as Java can be highly complex, expensive and time consuming. This blog outlines three essential techniques you can leverage to reduce the risk and complexity around the modernisation effort.

Narrow the focus, reduce the risk

Mainframe systems have usually passed through many hands over a decades-long period, often without proper documentation of features or functional relationships. A detailed assessment of their applications and databases is essential for risk mitigation and proper decision-making in any COBOL to Java modernisation effort. By analysing the legacy inventory in detail, you will uncover mountains of dead or unused code. This discovery can significantly reduce the scope of a legacy modernisation, reducing the cost of the project as a result. In addition to cost reduction, trimming dead and unused code reduces the complexity of the modernisation effort - a huge win considering these systems are almost always without proper documentation.

Understand the details

For many organisations, mainframe systems are 'black boxes’ – vast entanglements of intertwined code written by developers who retired or left the firm long ago, leaving behind little documentation or applied standards of any kind. These unknowns make planning a COBOL to Java migration extremely risky.

Another common risk associated with COBOL to Java migrations revolves around understanding the breadth of influence of the business rules housed within the legacy system, and planning based on the accuracy of the assessed complexity of the system itself. The depth of understanding of the source environment is directly related to an organisation’s ability to plan for and implement a successful modernisation strategy. With an accurate, detailed understanding you reduce the potential of cost overrun by understanding the inner workings of the project earlier, are able to set more realistic timelines, and understand the impact of scope and time on the level of effort required to be successful.

Not all COBOL to Java migration solutions are created equal

Sifting through the cornucopia of tools and services on the market to facilitate COBOL to Java migrations can be daunting. Commercial off-the-shelf solutions typically turn into endless nightmares and the automated refactoring market is saturated with tools that produce junk code which is virtually impossible to extend and maintain after the migration is complete. If your IT teams want to take advantage of agile development methodologies such as DevOps, it’s important to choose a solution that produces maintainable code.

Advanced offers an extensive automated mainframe assessment solution that will help you narrow the scope of your legacy application migration and shine light on the business rules hidden in the black box of the legacy environment. In addition, our COBOL to Java Automated Refactoring solution results in a 100 per cent functional equivalent, object-oriented target application with a fully maintainable, easily-extensible code base.

Further resources

Blog Application Modernisation IT Services Application Modernisation and Migration Application Modernisation Strategy Application Re-architected and Reintegration Application Understanding Cloud & IT Services Application Modernisation Application Modernisation and Migration COBOL Application Understanding Assessment
Rob Anderson

Rob Anderson


Vice President of Marketing and Product for Application Modernization

Rob Anderson is Vice President of Marketing and Product for Application Modernization. He has spent the better part of the past decade developing, marketing, and selling mainframe modernization solutions, and has had a front-row seat in the transformation of the industry and its surrounding ecosystem.

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