COBOL software modernization and migration services 

Throughout 13 years of our presence in the IT outsourcing market, we at DICEUS have become adept at providing migration and modernization services that include data migration, mainframe migration, application migration, cloud migration, and more.

Having been introduced in the middle of the previous century, Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) is still widely employed by modern enterprises across different industries, such as the government sector, finance, insurance, healthcare, retail, and logistics. Hard as it may be to believe, COBOL application is symptomatic of the lion’s share of IT systems and operations in many of them – up to 95% for ATM transactions and 96% for transportation bookings, to mention a few.  

However, with the advent of cutting-edge digital know-how, even solutions using COBOL latest version are doomed to extinction, which moves the issue of COBOL migration to the forefront. If your business has relied on this outdated technology, we offer first-rate COBOL migration services that will enable your organization to stay competitive and keep abreast of the current IT trends in your field.  

Challenges of COBOL modernization or migration 

As seasoned experts in the niche of system modernization, we envisage the following pitfalls and bottlenecks on the way to successful COBOL migration and modernization. 

Skill gap

COBOL is a legacy technology, so finding a workforce competent in programming in COBOL is a tough row to hoe nowadays. As it is aging more and more, such a dearth of talent is only going to increase. That is why the sooner you commission COBOL modernization services, the more chances you have to hire professional staff for it. 

High costs

This challenge is a result of the COBOL skills shortage. With the supply of COBOL development experts running short, the price tag for their services grows exponentially. 

Legacy code

Most COBOL software products were created decades ago by dozens of developers contributing to the code base and the list of features. Today, both the people and papers documenting all intricacies of the code and changes introduced to it are likely to be absent, so the migration team has to read multiple riddles while implementing the project.

Translation issues

Since the organization of COBOL differs greatly from that of Java or other modern programming languages, a line-by-line conversion of data types between them is impossible. Developers have to resort to employing JOBOL as a transition-stage language where Java code is described via COBOL syntax. 

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Our approach to COBOL modernization 

Depending on the condition and scope of your current COBOL system environment, vetted mavens of DICEUS will opt for the most suitable migration technology and method.  

RewritingIf the existing COBOL code doesn’t suit your business needs or its maintenance is too complex, we recommend total replication and replacement of legacy code of COBOL-fueled solutions with modern languages (Java, .NET, or others). The same is true of all COBOL V5 or V6 systems. If properly implemented, this procedure will leave you open to embracing disruptive technologies, although it is rather time- and resource-consuming. 
RefactoringThis approach isn’t so radical since it deals with improving the COBOL code’s internal structure while leaving its external behavior intact. Typically, it is limited to restructuring the program, removing code redundancies, or optimizing routines. Given the multitude of processes to be revised and revamped, refactoring is a slow and lengthy procedure. 
ReplatformingHere, COBOL solutions are adjusted for the new environment, where they will now run via altered data access methods or the introduction of special middleware (like embedded SQL).  
IntegrationIf you want to keep the current COBOL logic but let it work in sync with cloud services, mobile apps, or other state-of-the-art systems and technologies, integration is just what the doctor ordered. The connection of COBOL software with other elements of IT infrastructure is performed via APIs that will make all ecosystem components visible to each other. 


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Things to consider before COBOL modernization

While working on implementing a COBOL modernization solution, it is mission-critical to pay attention to the best migration practices.  

Getting to grips with migration goals. The project can be successfully completed only if you know from the outset what to aim for. The primary objective can be cost optimization, increasing scalability, enhancing operational efficiency, meeting compliance requirements, or all of them taken together. When you understand your goal, divide the pathway to it into clearly defined stages with achievable milestones. 

Legacy system audit. After determining your destination, you should obtain a comprehensive view of the system you are going to modernize. Your team should perform a thorough analysis and QA of the existing COBOL solution to give you a 360-degree view of all its elements, their architectural peculiarities, and functional bottlenecks. 

Selecting a suitable modernization approach. The legacy system’s complexity and current state, its specific needs, and customer requirements condition the choice of the modernization approach to adopt. The migration team should determine whether they will undertake rewriting, refactoring, re-platforming, or integration of the COBOL solution.  


Discovery phase

Architecture and design


Testing and QA




What is COBOL, and why is modernization or migration necessary?

Being introduced at the end of the 1950s, Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) has become a real hit in the IT realm as a programming language for numerous use cases and industries. However, 60+ years later, it has turned into a legacy technology hardly compatible with modern know-how, lacking a workforce for maintenance and posing serious security problems. By migrating or modernizing COBOL-powered solutions, you can bring them into harmony with the contemporary IT environment and spare your company many troubles related to operating and supporting outdated products.  

What are COBOL modernization and migration services?

This is a complex of services rendered by IT vendors that update COBOL solutions to enable them to play well with newer products and dovetail into the current needs of enterprises that use them as elements of their IT ecosystem. Modernization is achieved by rewriting, refactoring, and replatforming legacy solutions or integrating them with the new digital environment.

What challenges can arise from maintaining legacy COBOL systems?

Their main drawback is their ancientry. Hence, all the shortcomings stemming from it. The specialists well-versed in COBOL are increasingly hard to come by, the maintenance cost is getting higher every year, upgrades are scarce or non-existent, COBOL products don’t see eye to eye with novel solutions, and their security is substandard.

How does COBOL modernization contribute to improved system performance?

Modernizing COBOL-fueled solutions will reduce their load time, enhance interplay with other systems, increase flexibility and scalability, and leave them open to embracing new technologies. Such boons translate into greater efficiency of your organization’s pipeline and minimized IT infrastructure support and maintenance expenditures.

What role does the cloud play in COBOL modernization?

Cloud technology is a powerful tool that can take your COBOL product to a new level. By migrating it to the cloud, you will get cost-effective, flexible, and scalable software with improved support capabilities, where security is guaranteed by the service provider. Besides, such products are open to innovation initiatives and offer excellent user experience.

Is it possible to modernize COBOL systems without disrupting ongoing business operations?

Since COBOL-powered software typically forms the core of a company’s IT ecosystem responsible for vital shop floor processes, replacing or upgrading it without workflow disruption is next to impossible. However, downtime can be minimized by scheduling the procedure for shoulder hours, using the proper migration tools, and applying a phased approach to conducting migration.

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